How much injustice is there in Moldova? IPN interview with lawyer Ion Dron

“How much injustice is there in the Republic of Moldova at present? What are the roots, forms of injustice and solutions for combating it? What is the role of politicians in relation to justice and how the created mechanisms turn against them? How the justice sector reform is being implemented and what else should be done? Answers to these and other questions can be found below in an interview conducted by IPN reporter Elena Nistor with the head of the public association Center of Initiatives and Public Authorities Monitoring, lawyer Ion Dron.

 – IPN: Mister Dron, we are discussing within a project that lays major emphasis on the notion of “injustice”. How would you define this notion? Do you think it has local, Moldovan characteristics besides the general ones?

– Ion Dron: Injustice, especially in our country, is no longer related to laws, to the system, to behavior or punishment. Injustice became a state of opinion and the way in which this opinion develops in our mentality should worry the Republic of Moldova. Currently, this notion does not bother many.

I will not venture to give a definition starting from a philosophic or moral conception. I will formulate a short definition, starting from the philosophical content of this word. Injustice is ultimately the antonym of justice. What is actually justice? I do not want to speak in a philosophical or moral context. I will speak in a strictly academic context. I have an own definition: justice is the law applied based on evidence. Consequently, when we do not have the law applied or it is applied outside or without evidence, we witness injustice.

– IPN: So, it goes to a general perception in society?

– Ion Dron: It is a state of opinion, a perception. I’m afraid this can turn into a mentality to which the people will get used. This is the biggest danger to which we are exposed as these discussions centering on injustice seem to become a kind of subject of public debates with different characteristics and large in scale in parts. This is very worrisome. We should speak with concern or the existing phenomenon will become a mentality.

– IPN: Where do the roots come from? For how long has this perception persisted or when it became more intense?

– Ion Dron:
Is hard to answer this question as I have what to compare things with, regrettably or fortunately. I have worked in the legal system as a judge since 1991. Since 1989 I have served as a lawyer. During 30 years, I have seen the system in different phases. The worst phase for the Moldovan justice is the one we have experienced during the past few years.

Consequently, when you ask me about roots, I try to look for them in the period since 1989 as, starting with that year, when I was lucky to enter the system, things had been different during ten years. Not because I was present in the system, but you can look at opinion polls. Confidence in justice was at another level in 1996. In the 1990s, which were difficult even in terms of remuneration for lawyers, the people didn’t speak so often about corruption in justice as they speak now as about something normal. In the 1990s, the judges hadn’t received the salary for half a year, but polls were different. The citizens had trust in justice.

I think the roots starts from a point that can be hardly perceived as we abandoned the moral models and benchmarks in parts. As the politicians say, if there are no morals in politics, why should they exist in justice, in the daily life? In other words, when leaving the political system in the current period of transition, we renounced the set of values in which we were brought up and educated and entered a system without values at all.

We have a generation of prosecutors, a generation of judges who do not follow models in the system in which they work. When I started my career of judge, I had professional, moral benchmarks. The young generation that starts work today does not seem to have such standards. Consequently, injustice starts from the lack of morality at all the levels of society. Injustice has two facets. The one who comes and gives the envelope with bribe in the legal system is the citizen without roots, without moral standards who accepts to do this.

– IPN: Who ultimately suffers the most because of injustice in the Republic of Moldova and why?

– Ion Dron: The first perception is that the one who experienced an act of injustice, either on the part of a judge or a prosecutor, or of a public authority suffers because of injustice. But the one who believes that he “benefitted” from an act that, as he considers, advantaged him in relation to the opponent or someone else also suffers. Everyone ultimately suffers from injustice, even those who, owing to the envelope, managed to obtain a favorable act of justice, as they believe.

When a company, for example, is punished unjustly by a court decision, it recovers the damage at the expense of the one who believes that he won. The company either provides products of a poor quality at higher prices or simply raises prices in order to cover the incurred costs.

– IPN: Is it a vicious circle?

– Ion Dron:
It is a vicious circle indeed. The one who believes he benefitted from justice by giving an envelope in an office, because he was not punished, for example, for supplying counterfeit drugs, ultimately also suffers as he cannot sell those drugs to friends, neighbors, etc. The point is that we try to change the viewpoints, but say that injustice is only when we suffer directly because of such an act. When we stand to gain, we have a different standpoint. We in parts live according to a social Darwinism belief – the one who is stronger survives. But this is the road to abyss, to nowhere.

– IPN: Are there people or categories of people who are not affected by injustice or they are above justice?

– Ion Dron:
It is an illusion to believe that someone is above a system. In our country, those who are in power are usually above the system. They try to keep the hand on buttons and to control the situation so as to try and suffocate someone with their power. But they also suffer as a result as the mechanisms they build finally annihilate them.

I often told the then government, when the bill on the prosecution service was promoted: don’t try to promote a system that reacts to reflexes like “fas”, when you order something to a dog, as the owner will change at a moment, but the reflex in the system will remain. Those who are now fugitives benefit from the “reforms” or results of the system they built. And it seems to them that they build a very good system. But it is an illusion to believe that you are safe when you are above a system. You cannot always remain above the system. When you leave, the system becomes a butcher for you too.

Why do some of our politicians try at any cost to remain in power and there is no such a phenomenon in the West? There, a mayor or a prime minister in four-five months returns to the office where they served earlier. In the Republic of Moldova, things stand differently as they know that the repression mechanisms they built are a danger to them too. The former and current governments do not understand that mechanism that would ensure you safety when you leave office must be created. Consequently, you should not have the goal to be always above the system and benefit from those buttons as there is the boomerang effect.

– IPN: Where should the change start from as we have spoken about the justice sector reform for a long period of time and I want to ask you to pronounce on its implementation? Who of the politicians should come up with initiatives and should insist on reforms and changes if every government sticks to ”buttons”?

– Ion Dron:
I think we should abandon the “justice sector reform” and adopt a new approach - the transformation of the judicial system. We reform and reform, but achieved no result. This system reached a stage when it should be transformed as the reforms until now produced no result. Even the justice sector reform strategy of 2011 wasn’t adopted based on a solid study. It does not have a solid research foundation as regards the priority sectors. “It was drafted as a technical document in order to get money from the West, which was offered at that moment. Those from the West said that we need a document for which this money would be provided. Our Moldovans designed this document called Strategy.

And there is no success because three essential things are needed to succeed in reforming justice, namely political will, view on the reform and management capacities for implementing the view. “Today we have nether political will, nor view on the justice sector reform. When these two elements are absent, it’s hard to determine if there are management capacities. I think we have management capacities, but no one made use of them as no one was interested.

We ultimately turned the Republic of Moldova into a factory that daily produces all kinds of reports. The justice sector reform is an industry that delivers reports as the planned reforms lack an essential thing – the impact assessment criterion. These palpability criteria do not exist in the justice sector reform.

If we speak about the new reform proposed by the Ministry of Justice, they have a kind of strategy, conception. If you read that strategy, you see that the first 11 pages are similar to the parallel document called Conception. Things are dramatic and can no longer go on like this.

I think and I made a call in 2011 – to manage to do reforms in justice, we need several things that weren’t done. We need to secure a minimal consensus at the system reform stage, either we reform the judicial system or the prosecution service. An initial consensus with those who will be the players of the reformation process is needed for any reform.

The Ministry of Justice starting with 2011 hasn’t had a leader who would have ensured the credibility of the system that is to be reformed. Moreover, the groups that drafted those bills and reforms didn’t have a leader around whom to unite the intellectual resources, experts. They believed that money comes and there is an NGO that recruits those who are considered necessary. We reached the phase when the justice sector reform in the Republic of Moldova is done by civil society, nongovernmental organizations. They design and present drafts, but it is ultimately the state that is responsible for the reform. No representative of the state went out to tell the people that they assume responsibility, including the failure of the justice sector reform, as a minister or as a secretary of state.

I will give the example of Lithuania, which I visited as part of a delegation. This state was already at an advanced stage compared with the Republic of Moldova. As the justice sector reform wasn’t successful, about ten persons – jurists, judges, prosecutors – decided to try. They went to Parliament and said that they are ready to present the set of documents, amendments concerning the justice sector reform on condition that the MPs vote only politically and do not become involved in technical aspects. The then minister of justice said that the political class agreed, but also on one condition – if the reform fails, Lithuania will know the names of the ten persons who didn’t manage to do that reform. Do we have someone in the Republic of Moldova who is ready to assume such responsibility? I think we have such persons, but they are not heard for now. The state now is not even interested in recruiting them.

I, for example, have experience as a judge and wasn’t recruited by the Ministry of Justice, even if I also worked as a secretary of state. I declared publicly that I’m ready to assume responsibility for the failure of the justice sector reform and I’m ready to start to do this reform if it is approved in the way in which I and those who are around me see it. They are not interested. By the way, the representative of an NGO that holds the monopoly on the justice sector reform, when I was speaking about Lithuania’s example in public, said: but I think this is no longer possible even in Lithuania as they also understood the advantage of being able to control the judicial system. Do you imagine? A young man, who has been financed with foreign funds for ten years, reached such a conclusion – that this justice mechanism is beneficial to politicians and everyone realizes it. This is distressing.

Other aspects of the phenomenon of corruption, corrupt people from the justice system, fighting measures and the activities of the Party “Political Movement for Rights of Animals” that was founded by Ion Dron are available in the video variant of the interview with the head of the Center of Initiatives and Public Authorities Monitoring.

The interview was conducted as part of IPN News Agency’s project “Injustice Revealed through Multimedia”.

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