Autonomy of prosecution service. Who should appoint prosecutor of Gagauzia? Op-Ed

“The amendments to the Republic of Moldova’s Law on the Prosecution Service proposed by Irina Vlah, stipulate that the last word in the process of naming the prosecutor of the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit belongs to the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia...”

Bashkan Irina Vlah proposed amending the Law on the Prosecution Service so as to increase the influence of the People’s Assembly of Gagauz-Yeri (APG-Y) in the process of appointing the prosecutor of the ATU. A number of Moldovan politicians criticized the amendment bill, describing it as a wish of the official Comrat to subdue the Regional Prosecutor’s Office and even as a step towards federalization. The TV channels affiliated to the Democratic Party criticized the bill at a time when the ATU insists that the initiative is within the limits of the current powers and the attempts to give a political subtext to it are classed as speculations.

APG-Y decides

Strengthening of the ATU’s powers in naming the prosecutor wasn’t part of the electoral promises made by candidate for governor of Gagauzia Irina Vlah. However, namely this bill became her first political initiative after starting her second term in office. According to the explicative note attached to the bill, the initiative is necessary because the powers of the ATU defined in the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauz –Yeri weren’t taken into account in the Law on the Prosecution Service that was adopted by Parliament in 2016.

Currently, the candidate for prosecutor of Gagauz-Yeri is chosen by the People’s Assembly and is then approved by the Superior Council of Prosecutors of Moldova and confirmed by the Prosecutor General. If this is rejected, the APG-Y can propose the same candidate the second time or another candidate. The candidate rejected two times is banned from applying for this post again.

The amendments to the Republic of Moldova’s Law on the Prosecution Service proposed by Irina Vlah stipulate that the last word in the process of naming the prosecutor of the Gagauz Autonomous Territorial Unit belongs to the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia.

“If the candidate is rejected by the Prosecutor General and/or the Superior Council of Prosecutors, the APG-Y within 20 calendar days examines the reasons for the rejection at a special session and can put forward the same candidate again by two thirds of the votes of deputies. This proposal is mandatory for the Prosecutor General and for the SCP,” says the bill.

At the same time, the Bashkan suggests giving the status of legal entity to the Prosecutor’s Office of Gagauz-Yeri and forming a system of local subdivisions of this, including a central section and three district sections in Comrat, Ceadâr-Lunga and Vulcănești. The managers of the three local subdivisions will be named by order of the Prosecutor General at the suggestion of the prosecutor of Gagauz-Yeri, in coordination with the APG-Y. The governor of the ATU also wants the prosecutor of Gagauz-Yeri to form part of the administration of the Prosecutor General’s Office, whereas the current law provides that only the Prosecutor General and the deputies of this form part of this category.

“This is a political matter”

In accordance with the procedure, the initiative of the region’s governor was submitted to the People’s Assembly for approval. If the bill is supported by the Gagauz deputies, the APG-Y will introduce it into Moldova’s Parliament as a legislative proposal.

For now, the Prosecutor General’s Office has avoided pronouncing on the bill. Deputy Prosecutor of Gagauzia Ruslan Caraivan, in an interview for the Gagauz television (RTG), said the appointment of the region’s prosecutor has always been discussed.

“I think this is a political matter . I cannot make comments. As far as I know, the Bashkan submitted the amendments to the People’s Assembly. When the APG-Y debates them, we will see and will decide what kind of amendments are these,” stated Caraivan.

APG-Y deputy and ex-prosecutor of Gagauzia Gheorghe Leiciu believes the amendments proposed by Vlah are actually just and anticipates the regional MPs could support the bill.

“Some of the proposals exceed the limits and I will speak about this, but in general I confirm that they correspond to the requirements of the law on the special legal status. They could be improved and supplemented, but the idea is generally an appropriate one,” Leiciu stated for RTG.

“Two prosecution services”

A number of Moldovan politicians and former state officials criticized Irina Vlah’s proposals, saying these run counter to the legislation. In particular, former minister of justice Ion Păduraru reminded that during the justice sector reform of 1995 – 1996, at the request of the managers of Gagauz-Yeri, it was decided that the judges of the first and second ranks and the prosecutors will be named only from among candidates confirmed by the APG-Y. Later, the Ministry of Justice filed a complaint to the Constitutional Court (CC), which ruled that this situation is against the Constitution.

“Society accepted that verdict of the CC. Now they yet try to make the prosecutors obey the authorities of Gagauz-Yeri. We will see how politicians act in this case,” Păduraru posted on Facebook.

Ex-minister of environment and former vice president of the Liberal Party Valeriu Munteanu opined on social networking sites that if the proposed amendments are adopted, there will be two Prosecutor General’s Offices in Moldova and the Prosecutor’s Officer of Gagauz-Yeri, from procedural viewpoint, will obey only the political instructions of the APG-Y and the Bashkan.

HHHhhhe also presumes that other bills, concerning the Constitutional Court, the Security and Intelligence Service and the police, could soon appear to prepare Moldova’s federalization.

It should be noted that Vlah’s initiative was also criticized by the media outlets of the media holding owned by the Democratic Party, but emphasis was placed not on the discrepancies between the national and local legislation, but on the Bashkan’s will to institute political control over the local Prosecutor’s Office. In particular, the TV channels Prime and Publika published features with a similar message about the proposed legislative amendments:

“The Bashkan of Gagauz-Yeri Irina Vlah insists on the unconditional approval of the candidate proposed by her for prosecutor of the region. The governor considers the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Superior Council of Prosecutors should only agree with her opinion,” said the features.

It should be noted that the text of the bill refers only to the powers of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia and does not mention the Bashkan.

Vlah reacted without giving too many details to the attempts to interpret her initiative. She has told IPN that the bill derives from the discussions held during the past few years on the powers of the ATU defined in the Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauz –Yeri. Asked to pronounce on the fears stated by Valeriu Munteanu, the governor said she does not consider it necessary to comment on the speculations and political phantasies of former politicians.

Veaceslav Craciun

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