President Klaus Iohannis spoke about the challenges faced by the judiciary during the COVID-19 crisis
'The independence of the justice system is and must remain a principle from which nobody can depart,' president Klaus Iohannis said on Wednesday, at the release of the annual report for 2020 of the High Court of Cassation and Justice. A year ago, the head of state had praised society for standing by magistrates and giving the appropriate response to attempts at making the Romanian justice system subordinated to political interests. But now, the president reiterated that the judiciary needs several reforms, in line with EU guidelines.
Klaus Iohannis: “In 2020, with their votes, citizens clearly expressed their support for reforms and the strengthening of the rule of law. In this context, revising the Justice Laws cannot be postponed any further. I trust that in the forthcoming period, the framework that regulates the work of Romania’s justice system will once again be predictable and in line with the standards of an EU member country.”
Klaus Iohannis pointed out that 2020 was a difficult year for all public institutions, which needed new and innovative ideas, solutions and practices. The crisis entailed by the COVID-19 pandemic required immediate response, including from the judiciary, which is why digitisation processes were stepped up, he explained. He also emphasised:
Klaus Iohannis: “Large-scale discussions are needed in Parliament, with the participation of not only stakeholders in the judicial system, but also academia and human rights activists. I hope this dialogue will help address the controversial legislative acts passed in recent years and adopt solutions in keeping with the new judicial and social circumstances”.
In turn, the president of Romania’s supreme court, judge Corina Corbu, said that in spite of the pandemic and of challenges like excessive workloads, retirement issues and a lack of office space, her colleagues finalised more cases than in 2019.
Corina Corbu: “Being a supreme court judge is not easy. The emotional toll, the need to maintain the highest level of professionalism at all times, the possibility of criticism—sometimes harsh criticism—coming from the public, all come with the job. The issue of supreme court judge retirement remains for me a reason for sadness. The High Court is now losing judges, through retirement, at an age when everywhere else in the world one is believed to only acquire the wisdom and judicial refinement required in trying last-instance cases, in a supreme court”.
The High Court president also added that this year she would like a supreme court that is more forward-looking, more efficient and more focused on citizens’ needs, but she also said she wished public institutions were more open to the issues facing the judiciary. (tr. A.M. Popescu)