Bucharest, Romania
7th October 2013


The President of the European Commission, His Excellency Jose Manuel Barroso
The Vice-President of the European Commission, Her Excellency Viviane Reding
The Commissioner for Home Affairs, Her Excellency Cecilia Malmstrom
To the Secretary General of the European Commission, Ms. Catherine Day Civil

Open letter to the European Commission on the latest Prime Minister Victor Ponta public attacks upon the independence of the judicial system

Dear Mr President
Dear Commissioners

ActiveWatch-Media Monitoring Agency* and the Justice Monitoring Association ** would like to bring to your attention the latest public declarations of Romanian Prime-Minister Victor Ponta that might have a serious detrimental effect on the functioning of Justice in Romania.

Within a public interview on October 2nd, the Prime Minister expressed his view on the professional activity of Lucian Papici, the former chief prosecutor of the National Anticorruption Directorate’s Section 1 for Combating Corruption, whom he accused of investigating “political cases” and being “Basescu’s prosecutor”. The Prime Minister’s declarations were made within the context of Papici dismissal from his position at the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) before his end of term as chief prosecutor of Section 1 ( the term was due to end in December 2013).

Lucian Papici was the person who investigated and finalized (the week before) the case in which Victor Ponta’s party colleague, vice-premier Liviu Dragnea, was under investigation for electoral fraud in the “Referendum case”. Papici was dismissed by the General Prosecutor , Tiberiu Nițu, after he had completed the Dragnea case and only a week after his position as chief prosecutor of Section 1 was extended for three months by the Head of DNA, Laura Codruța Kovesi.

“I don’t know if Papici, the biggest supporter of Băsescu and Morar [Daniel Morar, the former Head of DNA], was dismissed. He wasn’t dismissed; his term came to an end. Băsescu’s presidential term will come to an end as well, are we to keep them in power indefinitely? As if the country can’t make it without them, to keep them so that they can undergone another case. As if the chiefs supported by Băsescu have to stay in power even a hundred years after Băsescu leaves office. He has now the opportunity to be a simple prosecutor. He wasn’t born a Chief. The case was completed; it is on Mrs. Kovesi desk. It’s time to say goodbye. Why do we have to keep in power all Băsescu’s people who conducted corruption cases even after their term is over? In my view, Daniel Morar, Papici and all other investigated political cases last year when they forced people to testify on the Bible looking for possible election fraud, as if these persons were to be blamed for voting at the referendum; these are the type of “political police” cases. I said it before and I will say it again. Macovei [Monica Macovei] and her mother can be annoyed as much as they want. [Victor Ponta at RomaniaTV]

These declarations regarding the former Chief of Section 1 in DNA ,with a subjective approach, are to complete Victor Ponta’s statement on May 16th 2013 on the same Referendum case:
“I no longer want to see scenes like in the 50s with prosecutors investigating simple people from the country” (Source: mediafax.ro).

The prime minister’s declarations raise serious concerns regarding the reasons behind the dismissal of Papici and they represent warning signals for prosecutors who are currently conducting investigations on high-ranking governmental officials and politicians. Prosecutors are subordinated to the General Prosecutor and the Minister of Justice, therefore Victor Ponta’s interference in the activity of the prosecutors exceeds the legal and institutional framework.
The fact that the declaration was stated in the context of a prosecutor’s dismissal from a high position within the DNA can be understood as a threat against prosecutors .

However, Mr. Ponta’s declarations regarding the act of justice are not restricted to prosecutors. Recently (October 7th), he suggested to magistrates how they should decide in the case in which his party colleague, Liviu Dragnea, is being investigated:
“I am convinced that judges will dismiss these accusations as being 100% political; these political accusations do not surprise me since Traian Băsescu has personally warned me about this; he implied thit both personally and publicly: we must pay because we tried to impeach him”.
Victor Ponta, as the Head of Government, anticipates the Court’s final decision, sending a direct warning towards magistrates who are to judge corruption cases involving high officials.

Victor Ponta’s latest declarations exceed the limits of political public speech by involving politics into legal system (as he previously did in May, 2013). In our view, that is prone to affect the independence of the Judiciary system.

These continuous public attacks initiated by the Romanian politicians have an irreparable and a long term effect on the process of reforming Judicial System that is in and still vulnerable to political pressures.

We kindly ask you to use all the instruments that derive from your position to determine Romanian politicians to stop undermining the rule of law.

With highly appreciation,
*ActiveWatch Media Monitoring Agency is a human rights organization that advocates for free communication for public interest.
** Justice Monitoring Association whose mission is to improve the act of justice by creating the premises for an efficient and objective management of Justice.

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