Non-declaring of property extends distrust in justice, IPRE debate

Society is astounded by journalistic investigations about the unjustified properties of justice sector professionals that appear in tax returns and are not assessed at their real value or are not declared at all. On the other hand, the situation in the justice sector is rather bad as regards the trust enjoyed in society. Such information further extends the distrust in the justice sector, Iulian Rusu, executive director of the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), sated in the debate “Verification of properties and interests in justice” that was staged by IPRE, IPN reports.

Rodica Antoci, who heads the National Integrity Authority (NIA), spoke about the barriers that hamper investigations based on tax returns. For example, the subjects (judges, prosecutors) register their properties in the name of relatives or third parties and accept donations and concubinage that they do not declare. There is also the possibility of declaring the value of property at derisory prices in virtue of the incomplete and permissive aspects of the civil legislation. Another barrier is the fact that the judges whose guilt is proven are not dismissed. The possibility of extending the control area of integrity inspectors should be taken into account.

Journalistic Investigations Center head Cornelia Cozonac said another problem is the businesses that are managed from behind by some of the judges and prosecutors and that weren’t brought into the focus of the National Integrity Authority. Prosecutor General Alexandr Stoianoglo for years hasn’t declared the incomes earned from his wife’s business. The journalists expect the NIA to be more courageous in relation to those who avoid the law.

Ion Crețu, a member of the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM), said the self-managing judicial authority is not always able to bring things in order alone. Many problems cannot be solved owing to legislative shortcomings, such as the law on the selection, performance assessment and career of judges, which contains no criterion for assessing the integrity of candidates who aspire to become judges or of those who want to be promoted. The SCM has to set the selection criteria by regulations. Under the current regulations, the candidate must get a score of 85 points, 60 of which from the assessment board and at least two points concerning integrity, correctness and other similar aspects. The problem resides in the legislation. The SCM cannot adopt primary norms. Such criteria should be defined by law. As to the declaring of property, the SCM cannot check the property of judges as it does not have such powers and can only comply with what the NIA decides.

Chisinau City Court judge Livia Mitrofan noted the problems reside not in the law, but in its quality, in people, interests and in the method of applying the law. The judges are interested in having the corruptible factors identified and eliminated from the system. The NIA and SCM can check the property of judges. If a discrepancy between incomes and costs is identified, the money is allegedly ill-gotten and the NIA should clarify the situation.

Ion Guzun, lawyer and anticorruption expert, said attention should be devoted to upper-level corruption and the anticorruption institutions should be united by establishing partnership to exchange data with the similar institutions of Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine. Transparency should be ensured in the publication of essential data and the ties of public servants and businesses in which they are involved should be investigated and efficient penalties should be imposed for corruption and related offenses.

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