Sic!: What one should learn about independence of CC from two major events

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17:30, 13 Dec 2018

Sic!: What one should learn about independence of CC from two major events

This week, the Constitutional Court (CC) was featured in news items on two important occasions. According to the authors of a new Sic! article, one of them refers to the almost traditional suspension of Igor Dodon from the office of President and the second was the so-called surprise appointment of former prosecutor general Corneliu Gurin and the even more surprising appointment of Democratic MP Artur Reshetnikov as constitutional judges. The authors said both are good occasions for discussing the CC’s role in a democracy and its independence, IPN reports.

“Many people, to say it conventionally “of the right”, saluted the suspension of Dodon this Monday, which was not the first by far. As in the previous four cases, the suspension projected the image of a powerless and humiliated Head of State for a particular public. Thunderous applause. On the other hand, the President showed a furious face to the public. Beyond this, he has one more reason to rejoice. In voter’s eyes, this unjust suspension makes a victim of him and adds one more prop to the Socialists’ cause for a presidential republic. No one derides the President! The voters unite,” says the article.

The authors note that for a purely political confrontation, the CC finds a bypassing juridical solution, intervening in favor of the government, apparently. As we said, the President has as many reasons to rejoice. So, both of the sides stand to gain, less the integrity of the Constitution and the CC’s image as an impartial arbitrator.

As to the appointments at the CC, the authors say Mister Gurin was proposed by the Superior Council of Magistracy, not by Parliament though Democratic MP Marian Lupu, as it happened in the case of his appointment as prosecutor general. It was probably an attempt to drive this perception away. In fact, the trick does nothing but cast a doubt on the independence of the SCM. “Without diminishing his professional merits, Corneliu Gurin is known as “Plahotniuc’s man”. A direct proof is found in the secret annexes to the AEI-2 agreement by which the Prosecutor General’s Office was assigned to the Democratic Party. So, namely Vlad Plahotniuc & Co chose him and named him to the post. The indirect signs say more about the close relationship between Corneliu Gurin and the Democrats: from the fact that the former prosecutor accepted the role of bait at the famous Parliament sitting where Prime Minister Vlad Filat was publicly accused of grand corruption to the fact that he accepted the title of “king of the ball” with a corresponding crown at an event held at the Nobil Hotel,” runs the article.

According to the authors, in the case of Artur Reshetnikov, his bias should not be even proven: from Democratic MP he was directly teleported to the Constitutional Court. The former chief of the Security and Intelligence Service in the seat of CC judge diminishes much more the rather low level of credibility enjoyed by the institution. When he headed the SIS during the presidency of Vladimir Voronin, Artur Reshetnikov was accused by the convicts from the Heroine case of having coordinated the scheme. Then, almost 200kg of heroine were found accidentally in a vehicle by the traffic police. Among those who accused the SIS head were two former policemen. The next year, when he ran for MP on the Communist ticket, Mister Reshetnikov was kidnapped and tortured during one night. The Party of Communists accused the government, while the authorities suggested the Communists framed everything up.

The decisions and composition of the CC suggest the parties managed to bring the Court under political control. Judges like Corneliu Gurin are named without any transparency or contest. The spotless reputation and political non-affiliation have been long ignored. Alexandru Tãnase or Artur Reshetnikov are good examples of politicians who turned overnight into ‘impartial judges’.

Also, the motivation of the decision on temporary incapacity to hold office is an evidently political comment. The criticism leveled by the opposition of the right and by the President’s Socialists further undermine the Court’s credibility. The CC judgments are no longer taken seriously even by the ruling party, an example being the decision on the name of the official language in the Constitution, which was ignored in Parliament. A Constitutional Court that is not really independent not only serves no purpose, but is even a danger and a vulnerability for the state.

The full article in Romanian can be read here. Sic! is a fact-checking, promise-tracking and explainer project implemented by IPN with support from the Soros Foundation Moldova and the Black Sea Trust.

17:30, 13 Dec 2018
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