POLL/ Why is Moldova’s Justice so Resistant to Reforms?

The commitments of former governments failed to add credibility to the justice system. At the same time, judges newly appointed to the Constitutional Court and the changes to the Law of the Prosecutor’s Office have aroused the suspicion of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

PACE has the impression that the Socialist Party -ACUM Bloc government is not inclined to fully comply “with the standards of the Council of Europe” and recommended Chișinău send them the project on the Law on Prosecutor’s Office for review. 

On October 11, the Venice Commission voiced its opinion on the new reform project. And now, reforming the Moldovan judicial system is on the agenda of the Council of Europe again. 

To find out why Moldova’s justice is so resistant to reforms ZdG asks the experts.

Alexandru Arseni, Professor, PhD

I’m surprised. To implement a radical reform – such as we need now in the justice system, it is necessary to consult with the academic world in the field, with the Departments of Law, professional unions and civil society. 

We have no idea what kind of reform project it is. And if it is a reform, who was consulted on it? We are talking about the modification of a system, one of the three main branches of state power and it was normal for the project to be discussed internally before it reached the Venice Commission. But that’s it. 

Have you seen the PACE recommendation? Justice “conforming to Council of Europe standards.” It means actual clear standards. 

The current government, like the former ones, thinks that reforming means to substitute a Democrat Party prosecutor with one from the Socialist Party or reduce the numerical composition in the Council of Magistrates. They are just pulling the wool over our eyes.

Natalia Moloşag, Lawyer

We need to change the people in the system if we want to change the judicial system. We cannot speak of reforms without making [personnel] changes. 

The system must be cleansed of people from the old regimes, those with “skeletons in [their] closets,” people corrupted by the vicious system we have had until recently… [But] it’s not that simple. 

In Moldova, justice has long been serving money, especially during the Plahotniuc period. And now what are they doing? They claim they were victimized and accuse the ruling government of subduing their independence as a judiciary. I am referring to what the Superior Council of Magistrates does.. just what the Democrat Party did after June 8, 2019. 

Hopefully, people might be found among the judges who want to make order. There are a lot of young judges in the courts, who are really good, you just cannot imagine how good they are. 

The problem is there is no political will, at the high level, to make the change. Both the National Anticorruption Center and the Constitutional Court have shown us that some interests are being pursued. It can also be seen whose interests they are. But let’s see who will become Prosecutor General. It’s a challenge for them. Let’s see what they’ll do.

Lilia Carasciuc, International Transparency Moldova

Why does the judiciary resist reforms? It is not the whole system that is resistant, only the people in the system who have served the interests of the former oligarchic regime are against reforms. 

The judicial system has been and still continues to be under the control of persons with money from the former government, who have greatly influenced justice and who have often made used the judicial system as an accomplice instrumenting cases and acting not in accordance with the law. This does not mean that the whole system and all the people in the system are the same. 

My question, however, is different: why have we abandoned the previous Judicial Reform Strategy, which remained unfinished, and moved in haste to another? It would have been right to make a statement that we were a captured state, to start a few cases against some of the most influential people in the system and the oligarchic system would have fallen on its own. But this is the government we have, maybe not courageous enough, perhaps, more pressure was required from society.

Mircea Iuga, Ex-Judge to the Constitutional Court

It has been more than 20 years that we’ve been talking about making Moldova a lawful state. And where is it? Where’s the supremacy of law? And where is equality before the law? 

In our country, the parties want reforms until they come to power, then they forget or only pretend to make reforms so. All for the show.  

Years in a row, the West has invested big money for justice reform in Moldova. The money is gone and justice continues to play the games of those in power. 

We can see PACE making a clear recommendation: “conform to the standards of the Council of Europe.” So, take a proven, confirmed model. And let’s move on.

No, it’s not wanted. And it is not wanted because it is not convenient. And it is not convenient, because the governments we have are light-fingered. They all stop here.

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