With 74 yes and 28 no votes, on Wednesday the Romanian Senate passed a bill to amend the Criminal Procedure Code. The bill, which was initiated by the ruling Social Democratic Party and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, was rejected by the MPs of the National Liberal Party and the Save Romania Union, both in opposition. The senators approved all amendments proposed in a report by the special committee for the justice laws chaired by the Social Democrat Florin Iordache. The bill puts the code in agreement with 18 rulings of the Constitutional Court and transposes into the national legislation two European Union directives on the presumption of innocence and extended confiscation.
Another change refers to the destruction of recordings used as evidence that have been obtained illegally. One of the most controversial amendments stipulates that a retrial may be requested if the judge has not signed or edited the text of the ruling. The opposition has criticised the amendments to the Code, saying they change the paradigm as far as the criminal legislation is concerned. What this means is that while the victim was in the centre of attention until now, from now on, says the opposition, the criminal will be the focus of the policy.
The Liberal senator Alina Gorghiu says the amendments will turn things upside down in the field:
"Most of these changes are solutions meant to slow down the activity of courts of law and prosecutor's offices and which, obviously, within a very short period of time, if they come into force, will completely upset the activity of the judicial bodies and irreversibly weaken the justice system in Romania."
The Social Democrats have rejected the accusations of the opposition saying that the prolonged and transparent discussions in the special parliamentary committee have led to amendments that harmonise the legislation with rulings of the Constitutional Court and European Union directives.
The chairman of the Senate's legal committee, the Social Democrat Robert Cazanciuc:
"I don't think we have a choice, at least not we, from the Social Democratic Party. If the National Liberal Party wants to choose not to comply with the rulings of the Constitutional Court, we've seen they've been trying to do that recently. We're trying to find solutions to comply with the rulings of the Constitutional Court. We can't be passive and do nothing, because we would be at odds with the very purpose of this committee. We have made the choice not to treat fundamental rights as a whim."
After the Senate's adoption of the changes to the Criminal Procedure Code, the bill will next be debated by the Chamber of Deputies, the decision-making body on this matter. (translated by Cristina Mateescu)