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EUROPEAN MOLDOVA// Justice minister says justice reform, combating corruption most important commitments Moldova took before citizens, in its capacity of country candidate for accession to EU

19:32 | 20.05.2024 Category: Interview, Event

*Moldova submitted the application on accession to the European Union on 3 March 2022  

* Moldova got the status of country candidate for accession to the European Union on 23 June 2022

*The European Council on 14 December 2023 ruled to open the negotiations on accession to the European Union with Moldova

*Moldova is in full process of assessment of the degree of compliance of the national legislation with the European Union’s one, a first stage for the state’s accession to EU

*The authorities aim for Moldova to join the EU by 2030

Interview given by Justice Minister Veronica Mihailov-Moraru with MOLDPRES State News Agency.  

MOLDPRES: Mrs. Minister Veronica Mihailov-Moraru, Moldova is in full process of evaluation of the compatibility of the national legislation with the European Union’s one – a first step for our state’s accession to EU. The justice sector which you manage is the 23rd chapter of negotiations out of the 35 ones, called, Judicial system and the fundamental rights. What Moldova has to do in the justice field, in order to be compatible with the EU’s acquis?  

Veronica Mihailov-Moraru: For the beginning, it is important that I specify that the term of acquis means the totality of common rights and obligations which come the status of member of the European Union. Presently, the process of Moldova’s preparation for the stage of bilateral screening takes place – analytical examination of the acquis, within which the national normative and institutional framework, as well as the calendar of the transposition of the EU legislation will be submitted on each chapter of negotiation to the European Commission.     

Following the screening procedure, the negotiations with EU will continue with the Chapter 23, Judicial system and fundamental rights, and are to finish with it.  

The Justice Ministry is the institution which coordinates the carrying out of the measures included in the national plan for accession on this chapter. Starting from February 2023, explanatory sessions on the legislative screening have been taken place on behalf of the European Commission. Moldova is to make an evaluation of the national legislation and an action plan on the non-transposed part is to be adopted, which will be submitted to the European Commission. Subsequently, the European Union’s legislation in the international law of Moldova will be gradually transposed, in a quite coherent and consistent process of coordination.  

In parallel, we are to implement the reforms underway and more systemic measures which regard the judicial system, the fundamental rights and the combating of corruption.

MOLDPRES: You have recently reported that nine out of those 17 actions of the National Plan on Moldova’s Accession to the European Union, planned till the end of this year, were already carried out. What do the other eight actions refer to? Will you manage to fulfill them till the end of this year?

Veronica Mihailov-Moraru: The National Plan on Moldova’s Accession to the European Union for 2024-2027 is the strategic document of adjusting the national legislation to the European Union’s acquis. The plan is structured in 33 chapters of the EU’s acquis and contains 6 clusters, which include the measures of implementation of the actions envisaged, the competent institutions, the deadlines of implementation and the source of covering the expenses planned.   

The Justice Ministry ensures the presidency and the secretariat of the working groups: for the Chapter 23, The justice reform and fundamental rights, and for the political Criterion (Work of the democratic institutions, Civil society).

Five out of those eight actions planned are to be carried out till the end of the 2024 year, and the other three ones – till late 2027.

The actions for this year regard:

- Elaboration of a roadmap based on the recommendations of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT);  

- Regulation of the procedure of medical examination of the seriously ill convicts, for the enforcement of the exemption from the servicing of the punishment and approval of the list of diseases which hinder people’s stay in prison (including for those under preventive arrest)  

- the draft government decision was elaborated and discussed in two rounds of public consultations. At present, it is given the final touches, in order to be subjected to a new round of approvals;

- The working out of the normative framework for the ratification of the Protocol 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;

- Transposition in the national legislation of the Directive 2013/13/EU of the European Parliament and the Council from 22 May 2012 on the right to information in criminal proceedings; 

- Selection of the company for the carrying out of the works on construction of the new penitentiary in Chisinau and the starting of the works.   

The next are some of the continuous actions for the period 2024-2027:

- Monitoring and assessment of the implementation of the action plan for the implementation of the Strategy on ensuring the independence and integrity of the justice sector for the 2022-2025 years (Law No 211/2021);

- Creation of an electronic system of management of the files of the convicted people;

- Establishment of the progressive system of servicing of the criminal punishments.

MOLDPRES: Three debts of Moldova as regards the recommendations made in June 2022, when we got the status of country candidate for accession to EU, were fixed in the European Council’s decision from December 2023 on the starting of the negotiations with Moldova. All debts concerned the justice system. What we have still to do and when will we be able to report that we fulfilled all recommendations of the European Council?  

Veronica Mihailov-Moraru: The recommendations communicated as regards those three conditions left concern aspects dealing with the justice reform, fight against corruption and the de-oligarchization. An important condition, of actually transposition of the EU’s acquis, consists in the successful implementation of the measures planned and the yielding of concrete results.   

The European Commission recommended that Moldova continues updating and enforcing the action plan on de-oligarchization, including through relevant regulations. Our country must boost the fight against corruption and organized crime. Moldova is to have final convictions on the files with high impact and crime asserts recovered by the state. This will be a more difficult stage, for reason that the phases of the criminal prosecution and consideration of files in courts can have a long duration.   

MOLDPRES: The justice system is presented in all public speeches as being the most problematic sector which might turn difficult the process of Moldova’s accession to the European Union. The process of evaluation of the judges and prosecutors is contested especially by subjects from inside the system. Are you contented with the process of pre-vetting and vetting? Do the evaluations yield the fruits expected?   

Veronica Mihailov-Moraru: I believe that we have already results and a positive evolution. Certainly, there are representatives of the judicial system, of the prosecutor’s office who are discontented with these evaluation procedures, especially those who are regarded, as this is an exceptional exercise, implemented in Moldova for the first time ever. The others expressed certain concerns about these processes in terms way of implementation; yet, there are many who are aware of the need of this exercise, in order to reestablish the society’s confidence in justice. This evaluation is part of the reform assumed by Moldova and this is a reform backed by the country’s citizens, including by the development partners, in the process of implementation. This is also a reform evaluated through the light of the aspects concerning the consolidation of the judicial system and of the prosecutor’s office on our European integration way. I remind that the domestic  mechanisms were not working already; therefore, it is important that we carry this process through, even if it unfolds with more difficulty than we would like, but I am sure that we go the right way; the system, once reset, will return to its own capacity of administration, with the observance of the law and of the public interest.       

The procedure of vetting for judges and prosecutors is a complex mechanism, which was approved and examined by experts from the Venice Commission. The subjects who are to be evaluated by the evaluation commissions and the duration of time are stipulated just in the law on the extraordinary evaluation: till the end of the 2025 year.   

MOLDPRES: The Prosecutor General’s Office has been led, starting from October 2021, by acting heads and the Superior Council of Prosecutors (CSP) launched a new contest for the holding of the office of prosecutor general, after the results of the last contest were cancelled on 28 February, this year. When will Moldova have a prosecutor general and how did you make sure, at CSP, that the contest would be not vitiated this time?     

Veronica Mihailov-Moraru: The contest for the office of prosecutor general has been launched; all eligible candidates were able to submit their files. We hope that we will have a prosecutor general in office in next June-July.  

Along with the other members of the Superior Council of Prosecutors, we made amendments to the regulation on the selection and holding of the contest for the office of prosecutor general. The principal amendments made to the regulation regard the prolongation of the contest, if there are less than two candidates and the possibility to exclude the cards of members’ evaluation, if decision-makers find out that they cannot reason the marks given.    

MOLDPRES: Mrs. Minister, the Moldovans are still waiting for justice and expect convictions in the files with high impact, such as the bank fraud, ‘’Laundromat,’’ or illegal financing of parties. What should happen, from your point of view, for the citizens to have confidence that the justice will do justice for them, when the public rights and interests are infringed?    

Veronica Mihailov-Moraru: The finality in the files with high impact is within the competence of the system of prosecutor’s office and the judicial system. Obviously, all of us want accelerated processes in this respect. The justice reform and the combating of corruption are the most important commitments which Moldova took before the citizens, as well as in its capacity of country candidate for accession to the European Union and in this regard, we are backed by the European institutions in continuation. The reform must be consolidated and strengthened.   

The prosecutors and judges must be courageous and responsible, quickly and efficiently examine the causes with high impact and this is also their professional duty. The parliament and government provided them with all instruments needed. At the same time, through the creation of the anti-corruption court or of the panels of judges specialized on the corruption sector (President’s initiative), the goal is to speed up the more efficient examination of the files with high impact, which will contribute to the enhancement of the citizens’ trust in the justice. Also, the evaluation of the integrity of the people who work in the judicial system is a process meant, also, to actually enhance the integrity and confidence in this system.     

It is important that the reforms underway have a constructive continuity, so that we can consolidate the judicial system and enhance, on a solid foundation, the citizens’ trust in our justice system.  

Mrs. Minister Veronica Mihailov-Moraru, thank you for the interview!

Reporter: Alina Zară







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