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Iohannis: we need a public prosecution service that is independent and efficient

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President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday praised Romania's Public Prosecution Service for its 2016 activity, insisting that Romania needs the service to be independent and efficient. 

"For Romania to be able to protect rights and freedoms, to secure respect for the rule of law and the general interests of the society, we need a public prosecution service that is independent and efficient, a prosecutorial body able to overcome all current challenges. At the same time, improved quality of criminal investigation procedures will only strengthen citizens' confidence in law and justice," Iohannis told a meeting where the 2016 activity report of the Public Prosecution Service was unveiled. 

He added that the activity report of the service speaks for itself, as it shows nearly 570,000 cases solved on 47,000 indictments and more than 63,000 defendants sent to court. 

Iohannis underscored that the main mission entrusted to the Public Prosecution Service is to guarantee that the law is observed, insisting that this is an essential activity in any consolidated democracy. 

"Representation of the general interests of the society and defending the rule of law cannot be conceived without first securing the citizens' rights and freedoms, which are principles clearly defined in the Constitution. From this perspective, strengthening the rule of law in Romania also depends on your capability of carrying out your duties in a balanced way while equally acting to protect public interests and especially civic rights and freedoms. Justice is first and foremost a public service. Consolidating public trust in justice by each passing year is a sign that democracy is getting mature in Romania," said Iohannis. 

He added that Romanians are increasingly more vigilant about the slippages from the rule of law as well as more determined to defend their rights and freedoms, all of which are tightly related to their perception over corruption. 

"The fact that at the level of an increasingly large part of the society these principles are translated into a way of living means that public expectations from all the components of the judiciary are increasingly higher. All the more reason for you to stay loyal to the constitutional rule that nobody is above the law and to exercise your power objectively and with no influence from the capacity of prosecuted persons, their political affiliation or any other nature," said Iohannis. 

He mentioned that caseloads are still heavy despite a slightly falling trend in the last two years.

According to him, the latest reports on Romania's progress with judiciary reform under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) mentioned the country's progress but underscored that calling into question the authority of court rulings or independence of magistrates affects Romania. 

He added that Romania has made remarkable progress in the province of justice ten years now after joining the European Union. 

"The Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM) for Romania will be lifted when the four benchmarks - judiciary independence and efficiency, integrity and the fight against corruption - will be met by the country and become irreversible. The latest CVM reports constantly pointed out the country's progress in the province of justice, but they also advised sustainability. And yet, attempts to return to the status quo of before reform and calling into question the authority of court rulings or independence of magistrates only slow down this progress while directly affecting Romania," Iohannis told a meeting where the 2016 activity report of the Public Prosecution Service was unveiled. 

He went on to say that the objective is for the judiciary reform progress to become irreversible. 

He pointed out that 2016 is the second year when no specific recommendations are made under the CVM report, but emphasis is placed on preventive mechanisms and the implementation of the strategic framework drawn up by Romania. 

"Attacks at prosecutors and judges have witnessed a worrying increase of late. That is why defending the independence and impartiality of the judiciary as well as of the professional reputation of magistrates is as much needed now as ever. No consolidated democracy or genuine rule of law can be imagined in the absence of an independent judiciary that is immune to political pressure," added Iohannis. 

He said Romanians "have unequivocally showed that they want to live in a country that is free from corruption, where justice penalises the wrong doers, a state that prioritises law, rules and fairness to the detriment of abuses." 

"The Public Prosecution Service will have to continue facing challenges that are still at a high level. More efficient case building, increased attention to the criminal investigation steps while respecting the fundamental human rights, reducing caseload and balancing the workload on prosecutorial offices are just some of those challenges. But, I am convinced that through constant dialogue and by placing public interest always in the center of your attention such challenges will be easy to overcome," said Iohannis.



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