Tuesday, June 29, 2010

AFP: Some Romanian leaders opposed to justice reform: minister

28 June 2010

(BUCHAREST) - Romania's Justice Minister Catalin Predoiu deplored on Monday that influential politicians still oppose justice reforms because they fear for their own interests.

"There are still influential politicians who are not interested in an efficient and impartial justice because it would affect them directly", Predoiu said during a seminar in Bucharest on the efficiency of justice.

Romania, like Bulgaria, is under strict monitoring by the European Union as it seeks to reform its justice system and improve the fight against corruption.

In a report published in March, the European Commission regretted that "the pace of progress has not been maintained".

It also criticized delays in corruption trials and light sentences doled out by the courts.

The minister said implementing the required changes in the judiciary "will only be possible when all political forces are dominated by the ones truly believing that we need an independent justice".

He deplored that crucial bills intended to increase efficiency of justice "drag on in parliament".

Besides delaying debates on some justice reforms, Romania's MPs have come under fire in May after adopting controversial changes to the country's anti-graft agency, leaving it "toothless" according to NGOs.

Romania's President Traian Basescu refused to promulgate the law, warning it could hurt efforts to fight corruption.

The initial draft from the Ministry of Justice was sent again to parliament and finally adopted in June.

Despite the austerity plan adopted by the centre-right government in order to curb a rising deficit, Predoiu insisted that justice should remain "a priority" for the executive.

A new evaluation report from Brussels is expected this summer.

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