duminică, 31 martie 2013

A different way of seeing Romania's justice III

8. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the Public Ministry and the National Integrity Agency should be “the ultimate example” for solid correctness. Someone is puzzled if it cares to look at the National Anti-Corruption Directorate and the Public Ministry websites in search of prosecutors asset declarations. There are two versions the old one (the National Anti-Corruption Directorate and Public Ministry lead to it) and another that is so updated and without mistakes that you can read someone’s future declaration submitted in year 7209 or 2209 or 2019. Typing error might be, but not at such a level. Shouldn’t their attitude about the matter be considered dissuasive? Of course Romania has the National Integrity Agency whose work was highly appreciated by Brussels. If the National Integrity Agency considers judges and prosecutors asset declarations an imperative goal and priority nobody knows. Certainly media and not the National Integrity Agency or the National Anti-Corruption Directorate or the Public Ministry dared to ask Mr. Horia Georgescu (president of the National Integrity Agency) about his loan of 300 000 euro took in 2007 from some family friends. At first, he had to give back that impressive amount in just five years. In 2010 the lending conditions were changed and Mr. Horia Georgescu agreed with his friends to pay them in twenty years (his family annual income peak only five figures sums and the lender is a businessman who’ s profits aren’t so high, official data says).

9. Being rushed to built laws and institutions and to fight high level corruption some mistakes in accomplishing that might have occur. Romania has an incompatibility law that forbids anyone occupying two state functions even if arts, education or health are involved. Senator Mircea Diaconu is a famous Romanian actor whose talents earned him a manager position in a Bucharest State Theatre. He was also elected senator and asked the Senate if he has to resign. The answer was no, a mistake made by Senate’s functionaries. Mircea Diaconu had to take the responsibility for someone else’s error when the National Agency of Integrity considered such a case a priority in fighting corruption. Senator Mircea Diaconu is that “infamous” member of the Parliament defended by his colleagues in last December after he was sentenced by a judiciary who had also to recognize that he was a honest man, victim of other’s mistakes. But don’t worry! He is now inquired by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate accused of nepotism because of hiring his long time wife Diana Lupescu (59) as a director. Some are amazed of state’s institution perseverance regarding Mircea Diaconu and wonder why is he a priority while so many controversial politicians aren’t disturbed.   

10. Only recently after he stepped out of office Sorin Blejnar (now an ex-chief of the National Agency of Fiscal Administration) was indicted by the National Anti-Corruption Directorate and the Directorate of Organized Crime (DIICOT) for tax evasion. He was designated in office by prime-minister Boc about whom president Basescu said that he was the best political fellow he worked with and a close party colleague of him. In Romania a trend of transcripts leaked out from various institutions that realize legal investigations is emerging. Nobody knows if there is a selection and intention but it’s the way Romanians find out some of the things that happened behind political and institutional curtains. In this case interesting information came out. Sorin Blejnar’s phone talk revealed that he was quite familiar with president Basescu and reacted surprisingly after a certain incident involving the same president Basescu took place. Sometime in late summer 2010 president Basescu had a quarrel with an unknown to him Romanian voter, lawyer Daniel Chitic who dared to say that he has the regret of casting the ballot in his favor. One or two days later Sorin Blejnar (at that time chief of the National Agency of Fiscal Administration) launched by phone several inquiries regarding Daniel Chitic tax payments. He didn’t found anything and this is quite an example of “well-functioning” of various Romanian institutions. The National Anti-Corruption Directorate didn’t consider such a situation important enough to react.

Romania might be in danger to develop a “showcase justice” with some peak-results that hide what is the invisible part of an iceberg. There were waves of institutional action and then long periods of silence although media was teaming with corruption dossiers. It seems that a wizard is in command and makes things happened at his will and needs.  Because of pursuing mostly the objective “high-level corruption” that could’ve been demonstrated only by top politicians imprisoned the peril of justice used as a political weapon wasn’t considered. Judges can sentence only those who get to courts filtered by prosecutors. When you are asked to solely present a certain type of outcome and nobody searches how correctly was obtained and what is beneath it….  The European Commission would have been right to set other goals also. Let’s give few examples: every case should be treated in the same manner no matter how high or low a person is, either corruption is the subject or not, to ask not only top level politicians to be brought to justice but to emphasize that they have to represent at the same level ALL Romanian parties. Everybody was happy when Adrian Nastase an ex-prime-minister (PSD) was convicted and imprisoned because of the “external pressure”, rightfully or not.  The statute of limitations was avoided. Nobody cared to see what happened with some other cases, those of president Basescu’s that have unknown status (one is about money laundry and the European Commission highlights a need for fighting phenomena of that kind).

The European Commission report extended it’s domain to other institutions then previously analyzed.  The more the better some might say. Is that really true? Doesn’t look like changing the rules during the game? There are examples of the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsman on which the Commission spoke only recently. Shouldn’t have been more appropriate that such concerns were manifested even when those officials that are now equaled to an institution were elected just to see if there was something wrong in the first place?  

The judiciary system must pursue it’s independence but with one absolute condition: to be more and more clean, professional and trying to earn citizen respect. Ask for the rule of law as well as for the real and more profound reform of judiciary system. Politicians fear now justice not only because their wrongdoings but because know they might be sitting targets for a judicial system that doesn’t work quite properly. Indeed one of the three powers of a state governs and corrects itself in Romania. But there is a proverb that says: crows do not pick crow’s eyes. The prosecutors and judges are also human beings that can make mistakes deliberately or not. Some will say that even they were inquired in recent years but many others will respond that the cases don’t match what is really inside the system. In other countries long years and decades of liberty and democracy sifted value in various domains including law applying. Institutions in Romania (either state managed or inside trade associations) aren’t the same as somewhere else in Europe. Now is hard to be sure that the system expells bad elements constantly and without bias. In a young democracy like Romania’s it’s preferable that citizens and MEDIA watch closely how judiciary also is cleared both of political influence (it’s still there and mainly one-sided) and of self interests and ambitions of judges and prosecutors. Surveys say that in Romania justice is not yet trustworthy and it’s a long way before everyone show deep respect and obey justice doers without any comment.
It would be wrong to look down on Romania because her present state. A question must be asked, are so distant those ages when justice wasn’t available for poor persons and the rich and influential man were treated differently? Does anyone wonder where civilized and capitalist states would be if whole money and fortune gained when the system was not established in it’s present state were confiscated and not allowed to grow first for it’s not always honest owners and afterwards for the whole society? Don’t forget how much time Europe needed to reach present standards. Romanians are on the way but still no there yet.

Romania’s new government is asked to correct what was wrong for many years. At least two requests coming from Brussels appear to echo in president Basescu’s recent public address. One is the honorable resignation of indicted (but not judged yet) ministries.  For many Romanians fear that prosecuting is still a selective and tricky business in their homeland and awareness that such a demand is asked by president Basescu which as a mayor of Bucharest assigned himself a state owned house makes the whole situation a laughing matter. The other was an appeal that members of Parliament subdue themselves to institutions like the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, the Public Ministry and the National Integrity Agency quickly and without any doubt.  Would it be so much to demand that prosecutors prove their professionalism without taping MPs for years and without requesting detaining to put them under pressure? Do not forget that the National Integrity Agency inspectors are not yet so specialized and it’s better to check through Courts the accusations they produce. 

Romania needs advice in reforming her judiciary but identifying the proper and precise goals, actions and especially using the same standard for any party in power would be more helpful. A search on Internet reveals that corruption is still a problem in many ex-communist countries. Being left after war to live the trauma of lacking liberty people suffered mentality consequences. Unfortunately humankind has her vast experience of no-freedom, no rights, unfairness and other faults. Remember the state Europe was one hundred years ago.

At least one east-European that wrights this words is more afraid of a manipulated judiciary than of corruption, the childhood disease of democracy. Justice credited as independent might be utilized as a political weapon and a propaganda instrument aimed mostly against opposition and not against those in power in certain moments. The correct way of cleaning politics maybe the slow one that happened in older EU member states. It is  accompanied by civil awareness and the desire to deal with every citizen that does anything wrong. If someone is listening Romania’s lessons must be thorough learned so that not only Romania’s judiciary improves. Please don’t do the same to Croatia or other country.

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