Courts of law haven’t become institutions trusted by ordinary people

Summarizing results in the justice sector with university professor Nicolae Osmochescu, former judge of the Constitutional Court, within IPN’s series “2020 in Review: Good and Bad Aspects”.

Nicolae Osmochescu said the expectations in 2020 were big, first of all related to the reformation of the prosecution service, including the appointment of the prosecutor general. When the current prosecutor general was appointed, there were big expectations that something will change radically in the prosecution service. But this didn’t happen. However, some positive moves are made progressively and slowly. “I’m categorically against major expectations during such a short period of time in such a difficult and sophisticated area. There is great hierarchical subordination between the Prosecutor General’s Office and the subordinate prosecutor’s offices, but first of all between prosecutors. I think particular changes are yet made. These are small, but steady and I hope they will continue,” said the expert. The former constitutional judge considers all the working bodies created within the prosecution system, such as the Superior Council of Prosecutors and the disciplinary commissions, do their job not brilliantly, but satisfactorily.

As regards the courts, more problems are faced here. These are created, organized and work according to other principles than the prosecution bodies, starting with appointment and ending with dismissal. There are more minuses than pluses here. The courts of law haven’t become institutions that are fully trusted by ordinary people. We continue to see controversial judgments, sentences. We continue to see delays in particular cases with good or bad intentions, especially in resonant cases that are known by everyone. This generates only disgust and a new wave of distrust on the part of the population.

“We see when those who are evidently guilty and were convicted are set free. Those who are convicted do not serve their sentences. It is a very serious problem. All the attempts to change the attitude of courts of law and judges to the quality of justice until now didn’t produce the expected results,” stated Nicolae Osmochescu, noting that even so, there are many upright judges with dignity who do their job honestly, but the people judge the whole judicial system by the inappropriate behavior of some of the judges.

According to the ex-judge, positive changes were made in the Superior Council of Magistracy. Some of the members became more vocal and are right in many cases and they treat the problems correctly. But some of the members attempt to make changes to the worse rather than to the better. The successes and failures of the judiciary depend greatly on the SCM as this is the only autonomous body that coordinates the activity of the judicial system, not the Ministry of Justice that often tries to unjustifiably intervene in the work of courts, including of the SCM.

A thing that he does not like is those comments on the opinions of the Venice Commission. When the Ministry of Justice or other institutions propose bills or amendments to existing laws, opposition appears immediately among civil society or in Parliament and reference is made to the Venice Commission. But this institution does a good job and works to promote democracy by law, but is a consultative body. The responsible ministries, the SCM, the parliamentary commissions are obliged to draft and propose high-quality bills here, in the country.

To improve things, the process of selecting judges, prosecutors and other law specialists should be optimized. The persons should not be chosen according to such criterion as “who knows who”, the political color and others, but according to merits, professionalism and integrity. Without these three basic elements for the selecting and appointment of a judge or prosecutor, the judicial system or the prosecution service will never be efficient. Penalties should be also imposed for political interference in justice.

The people expect changes next year and their expectations are not related to the snap parliamentary elections. “I refer to the installation of President Maia Sandu on December 24. She will attract the necessary and appropriate attention and will treat the work of the law enforcement agencies with all respect, without interfering. This will be a step towards changes from both sides – inside and outside,” opined Nicolae Osmochescu. According to him, the President should be very attentive to the functioning of the judiciary that is a branch of the state power equal in value to the legislature and executive.

In 2021 and in the future, everyone should realize this principle – the political class forms and influences the formation of law, including by adopting laws. Burt when a law is to be adopted, the politicians should act in accordance with the law. They are not above the law. “Starting with 2021, with a big delay, we should create a sociopolitical and juridical-political system in the Republic of Moldova that would be called preeminence of law in the state and society,” noted the university professor.


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