Romanian judges and prosecutors have announced through press releases that they are protesting by providing emergencies to courts and prosecutor’s offices.
Their grievances have been discussed for years, changes in their pay and pensions are a bone of contention due to amounts higher than their salary, so the special pension as it is seen creates political topics.
The judges of the Cluj Court of Appeal, meeting today in the General Assembly, decided, with the unanimity of those present, that, starting with June 21, 2023, to adopt the form of protest of postponing the trial of cases, except for the urgent cases mentioned below, until the legislative power respects the statute and the increasingly burdensome work from year to year, both judges and specialized auxiliary staff.
The judiciary is in a state of acute human resources crisis, with 1,129 judge positions already vacant. More seriously, the position of judge is no longer attractive for top graduates of law faculties, given that, although the average required for admission to magistracy has decreased to grade six from grade eight, the places put up for competition remain partially unfilled every year.
The extreme workload among judges, aggravated by massive departures from the judiciary, in the context of incoherence and lack of transparency of the legislative power, the undersize of staffing plans, the very large number of cases to be handled by judges, incompatibilities and prohibitions of the profession are aspects that had to be weighed by the legislator when it decided to undeservedly hit the body of judges, by affecting the status and independence, by violating the very dignity of the profession.
On 06.06.2023, judges across the country, through general assemblies, drew attention to the serious problems raised by this project, requesting that any legislative solution be the result of a dialogue between the judiciary and the legislative and executive powers. Since then, no progress has been made, but, moreover, the amendments unexpectedly launched in the public space on May 29, 2023 have been maintained, as has the statement made by representatives of the other powers regarding their adoption shortly, despite clear views, firmly expressed by the courts, being ignored, by representatives of the other powers and openness of the courts to dialogue.
In these circumstances, the personnel crisis exposes the judicial system to dismantling, with negative effects difficult to remove, directly affecting the right to a fair trial of every citizen.
We make it known to the public that we deeply regret that we had to resort to this form of protest, but it is in society’s interest for the status of the judge to be strong, respected and independent. The status of the judge is not his privilege, but it is the right of society to have an independent and impartial judiciary. The independence of the judge cannot be subject to political negotiation, and a disregarded professional body will no longer provide society with those much-needed guarantees of independence.
The regulation of the service pension, and not special, for magistrates is a right recognized by the legislator over time, its existence being objectively justified by the statute of judges which imposes obligations and responsibilities, prohibitions and incompatibilities, limitations that are not found in other professional categories, thus constituting a compensation for the rigor of the status of judges.
The elimination of this composition of the judge’s independence is at odds with the settled jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, which ruled that the abolition of this pension for judges is contrary to the current requirements, which important international documents directly express regarding the rights of judges, considering the importance of their role in defending the rule of law.
At the same time, the judges gathered in the General Assembly decided to notify the President of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, the Ombudsperson, the President of Romania, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, the President of the Senate, to support the entire body of magistrates by raising objections of unconstitutionality to the Constitutional Court of Romania.
It was also decided to mandate the president of the Cluj Court of Appeal to adopt a resolution by the presidents of the courts of appeal, during the meeting to be held in Iasi, on 30.06.2023, in relation to the stage of the legislative process at that time.
In order to minimize prejudice to the interests of litigants, the General Assembly decided to judge, during the protests, the following cases:
- in non-criminal matters: suspension of enforcement of decisions, suspension of enforcement of administrative acts, suspension of enforcement, precautionary measures and presidential orders; measures to protect minors in emergency situations; guardianship; trusteeship; protection order; declaration as undesirable; procedural incidents and relocations concerning the above cases.
- in criminal matters: requests for the jurisdiction of the judge of rights and freedoms, except for those concerning challenges concerning the duration of the trial, files with defendants against whom preventive measures have been taken in the case, preventive measures, precautionary measures and security measures, appeals against enforcement concerning these measures; cases in which criminal liability is likely to be time-barred at short notice; procedural incidents concerning the above cases.
In order to reassess the situation, depending on the stage of the legislative process, the General Assembly of the judges of the Cluj Court of Appeal will be reconvened at a later time.
Judge Carmen Pop
Spokesperson of the Cluj Court of Appeal
The Information and Public Relations Office of the Arges Tribunal informs the public opinion of the following:
For 20.06.2023, the General Assembly of Judges of the Arges Tribunal was convened, according to the provisions of art. 14 of the Internal Rules of the Courts, approved by HCSM nr. 3243/2022 and art. 55 of Law nr. 304/2022 on judicial organisation, having as agenda:
Expression of an opinion by the judges of the Arges Tribunal, within the General Assembly, regarding:
- the need to adopt a form of protest against the planned changes to the status of judges, as a reaction to ignoring the real problems in justice;
- imminent changes regarding the status of judges who did not have as a starting point a constructive dialogue with the magistrates’ body and without taking into account the achievement of a clear forecast on human resources;
- the fact that the statute of judges and prosecutors underwent changes in 2022, when Law no. 303/2022, which brought a series of legislative changes, which is why a new untimely amendment of the regulatory framework would affect the principle of predictability of the law;
- noting the lack of loyal cooperation between state institutions involved in this approach, through an open and constructive dialogue, ensuring unity and mutual respect between all professions involved in this approach.
By Decision nr. 3/20.06.2023, unanimously, the General Assembly of Judges of the Arges Tribunal, decided the following:
Adopting the following form of protest as a reaction to disregarding the status of judges and the serious effects that the targeted measures will produce on the judiciary, amid ignoring the resolution of real problems in justice.
Starting with June 21, 2023, for an indefinite period, all sections of the Arges Tribunal will judge only the urgent cases presented below, the others will be postponed:
Criminal Section: cases involving parties in detention, cases involving minors, cases in which defendants are under the influence of a preventive measure or security measures, cases within the competence of the judge of rights and freedoms, cases in which there is a risk of imminent expiry of the limitation period of criminal liability, notifications to confirm the reopening of criminal prosecution, measures and exceptions ordered by the preliminary chamber judge, substantive procedural stage and NCPP appeals.
Civil Section: protection order, suspension of forced execution, suspension of execution of administrative act, public procurement, precautionary seizure, presidential order, cases to be judged by specialized panels of fund minors, protection measures, placements and adoptions, application for judicial public aid (in urgent cases).
Section for labour disputes and social insurance: presidential order, suspension of execution, provisional suspension, application for judicial public aid (in urgent cases).
judge, Elena Cornelia Olteanu