24 May 2011 –An independent United Nations human rights expert today called on the Romanian Government to ensure that key conditions are in place before proceeding with major judicial reforms slated for later this year.
Gabriela Knaul, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, asked the Government to consider postponing the enactment of four new criminal and civil laws for at least a year, stressing the need for “cautious reflection” in such a complex process.
“A reform that truly aims to generate positive changes should foresee prior assessments, clear benchmarks and indicators of achievement and broad consultations with all parties involved,” she stated at the end of her six-day mission to Romania.
Ms. Knaul said several key conditions should be in place before the four new codes are adopted. They include ensuring adequate financial and human resources for the prosecution service and the courts to assume their new functions.
In addition, the general public needs to be informed on the legal changes that are to be introduced and the expected results on the ground, while judicial officials need training on the new reform and its implications.
The Special Rapporteur invited the Government to carry out a “mapping exercise” of the current needs of the judiciary – including in terms of infrastructure, personnel and budget – and the way they will be addressed through the reform. The hope is that by doing so, the implementation of the four new codes will help to build up a “solid and truly independent” judiciary in Romania, said Ms. Knaul.
“The reform of the judiciary has been a process of change that has accompanied Romanian efforts to flourish as a democracy,” she said.
“As it now stands, its major goal should be to guarantee a system of administration of justice that ensures independence, impartiality, integrity, equality and transparency, all prerequisites for the enjoyment of human rights by all in Romania.”
During her mission, Ms. Knaul visited Bucharest, Iasi, Cluj-Napoca and Pitescu, and held discussions with a wide range of representatives from government, civil society, academia and the judicial community.
She will present her report on the visit to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in 2012.