CSM reform cannot take place without broad consensus, debate

The reorganization of the Superior Council of the Judiciary (CSM) and its functionality is, first of all, in the interest of society, regardless of what judges or political actors think. Representatives of the judiciary reject as an exaggeration the claim that the reform has been blocked following the March 17 General Assembly, while representatives of the Ministry of Justice believe there was no legal ground to adjourn the meeting and postpone the selection of CSM members. The opinions were expressed during a conference organized by the Institute for European Policies and Reforms with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

Minister of Justice Veronica Mihailov-Moraru stated that both the appointment and functioning of the CSM are extremely important for society. However, when last week the judges finally held their first General Assembly in four years, they interrupted it before any delegates could be appointed to the CSM. “This raises some very big questions. After all, the law says very clearly that the selection of SCM judge-members is to be discussed at the General Assembly of Judges. Moreover, it wasn’t clear what the legal ground was for this postponement – not even postponement; interruption, as they called it – and until such a late date, too, until April 28”, said the minister.

Lawyer Vadim Vieru said that the justification presented by some judges is quite reasonable for the interruption. “However, if even after April 28, a consensus is not found and the CSM members are still not appointed, more questions related to the process could arise. To avoid this, there must be effective communication between the judges and the government. The current distancing will not lead to anything good”, said Vadim Vieru.

Judge Livia Mitrofan noted that having a functional CSM is not in the interest of the judges, but of society. “The ball is now in the court of the judges. I hope the magistrates will show responsibility”.

Judge Marina Rusu said that everyone understands that having a renewed Council is not enough; it has to be legitimate and functional as well. “There are principles and laws that must be respected. One of them says that at least half of the CSM members must be from among the judiciary”, noted the magistrate. This, however, comes in contradiction with the proposal that four members should be judges and six non-judges.

The former minister of justice Nicolae Eșanu noted that the CSM is the body that ensures the independence of judges, but for which the interests of society must come before the interests of the judges. In his opinion, a major change in the justice sector is possible only if there is a broad consensus. “Otherwise, the chances of the reform succeeding are very slim, but the risk of a counter-reform is close to 100%”. According to him, there must be certainty that the future CSM is constituted and operates legally. “The decision-making body must be established in accordance with the Constitution. Otherwise, a bomb is simply placed under the judicial system”, said Nicolae Eșanu.

Judge Ion Chirtoacă, acting chair of the Moldovan Association of Judges, rejects as an exaggeration the claim that a deadlock appeared as a result of the March 17 General Assembly. According to him, the problems of the judiciary had not been discussed for more than four years and after such a long period it was only natural to take more time to talk them over. The judge added that it will not help if the government keeps calling it a deadlock and a failure. He considers it objective for judges to be part of the reform.

The event was organized as part of the project “EU DEBATES CAFÉ: Advancing knowledge and expertise regarding EU institutions and policies in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by IPRE in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation Moldova and with the financial support of the German Federal Foreign Office.

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