Lack of communication and political influence are mistakes typical of all governments. Why does justice sector reform stagnate? IPN debate

The governments that managed Moldova in time attempted to reform the justice sector out of sincere convictions or out of wish to subjugate the justice system to the political class. A new justice sector reform as a firm bid was announced by the current government and by President Maia Sandu. Nevertheless, the intention only is not enough as the actions taken to do reforms are actually important. Some experts consider the poor experience of the current government, the limited human and financial resources, the lack of interest on the part of the representatives of the justice sector are among the factors that make the real reformation of the justice sector a difficult goal to complete. Even if particular results were achieved, skepticism towards the justice sector reform grows. These are some of the conclusions reached in IPN’s debate “Justice sector reform: expectations, actions and consequences”.

Lawyer Cristina Ciubotaru, anticorruption expert, said there is no communication between those who draft laws on the justice sector reform and those who do this reform daily – prosecutors and judges. For the reform to produce effects, the independence of judges and prosecutors, who should be experienced, should be ensured so that these are free in taking decisions, as it is appropriate under the rule of law.

“The justice sector reform means improvement and to launch it one should know the real state of affairs and the goal that must be achieved so as to adjust the methods of transformation from the problem up to the achievement of the goal. Sincerely, I don’t know if someone can exactly say what the goal of reforms is. We have not a reform, but rather a (re)reform. We should tend to have fair justice. For the purpose, independence should be ensured primarily from external factors, from the political class and from internal corruption risks. If we have judges who know their job and are upright, we will be able to say that we have the justice system we need,” stated Cristina Ciubotaru.

She expressed her dissatisfaction with the public statements of representatives of NGOs, who write and rewrite the strategy for reforming the Moldovan justice sector and insist that a bulldozer needs to go over the Moldovan justice for the system to be reformed.

“This continuous reform process lacks consistency not because of the governments as those who plan these reforms do not change. These are the same persons and interest groups and I suspect that not the result, but the process matters for them as they obtain benefits by counseling those involved in the process. This is a regrettable conclusion. I was shocked when I heard representatives of nongovernmental organizations saying that a bulldozer needs to go over the justice system for this to be reformed. How should be this done?” asked Cristina Ciubotaru. 

Vadim Vieru, lawyer at Promo LEX Association, said that during 30 years of Independence, the government committed one and the same mistake. When a reform is being planned, persons from the system should also be coopted, while the hypothesis that all the judges and prosecutors have integrity problems is not relevant as there are many stakeholders who can contribute to a healthy reform in justice. There are enough upright judges and prosecutors in the system who know the problems faced in the system the best.

According to the lawyer, the problem of judges is that these often prefer to make a victim of themselves than to admit to particular problems existing in the system. There are also rather serious problems related to the human resources as there are not so many candidates eager to ether the system.

Vadim Vieru noted the methods used in the process of reforming the justice system weren’t the most efficient ones and this led to rather serious problems and to lack of communication. They exaggeratedly demonize the judges and this does not do good to the reform. “Any done reform will go wrong in the absence of communication. Also, it is very bad that the judges do not communicate subjects of public interest. The prosecutors and judges have associations that should be their mouthpiece when the Superior Council of Magistracy does not do it,” stated the lawyer.

The director of the Institute of Legal, Political and Sociological Research Victor Juc said a justice sector reform in a state with the rule of law should be done by democratic ways not by injustice. Moreover, the players from the system receive clear signals that the politicians try to subdue them.

“A reform with the bulldozer hasn’t been yet reached. I ascertained full lack of communication as the goal is not known. When consultations are held, the government comes with the bill drafted and the formulated proposals are not taken into account. One cannot build democracy with nondemocratic methods. The steps taken in Moldova are not right. In this regard, communication and correctness are important, including for the current government,” said the professor.

“I would not say that the executive bodies are weak, but the people from the justice system probably realized that the political class tries to keep them under control. Even if there is corporate solidarity in the system, they think it is better to hide behind the system than to struggle against it. This is a big problem in the Republic of Moldova. The ideas are good. In a correct society based on justice, poverty and lack of meritocracy cannot exist according to the Anglo-Saxon paradigms. In the Republic of Moldova, given the European continental system, emphasis should be placed on the whole community, not on one manager.”

The debate titled “Justice sector reform: expectations, actions and consequenceswas staged by IPN News Agency as part of the project “Support for the Justice Reform through multimedia coverage of cases of alleged injustice”.

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