PRELIMINARY OPINION on the concept of the mechanism of external evaluation of judges and prosecutors
SENT E-MAIL AND PUBLISHED ON WWW.IPRE.MD
Date: 5th November 2021
Presented by: Ecaterina Popșoi, project manager, member of Justice Expert’s Group, IPRE. Email: [email protected]
Developed by: members of GEJ (Ecaterina Popșoi, Olesea Doronceanu, Pavel Grecu, Tatiana Ciaglic)
This Preliminary Opinion, prepared by the members of the Justice Expert’s Group (GEJ) is presented to the Ministry of Justice in the context of the public call from 19th of October, 2021,of opinions in the context of drafting the Concept of external evaluation of judges and prosecutors.
Since gaining its independence in 1991, the Republic of Moldova has begun a process of transition to a system of government that is based on democracy and the rule of law. One of the main processes in this transition was the establishment of an independent, socially accountable judiciary. Despite the launch of ambitious legal reforms in 1995 and 2011, and recent attempts to reform the justice system, the reform measures have not yielded the expected results of society, with the public’s confidence in the judiciary steadily declining. According to the Public Opinion Barometer for June 2021, about 64.3% of respondents do not trust the prosecutor’s office and about 65.5% do not trust the national judicial system. The lack of finality on the resonance causes, multiple journalistic investigations on the luxurious way of life of some actors of justice sector and their unjustifiable assets, only arouse even more public suspicions.
Currently in the system of courts and prosecutors, the verification of integrity, professionalism and ethics is being done by the self-government bodies – the Superior Council of Magistracy (SCM), the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP) and specialized colleges subordinated to them. Also, the National Integrity Authority verifies the integrity and personal interests of judges and prosecutors, SCM/SCP members and their subordinate bodies.
However, this formula for verifying the integrity of the professionalism and ethics of the actors involved in the act of justice proved to be ineffective, especially because of sabotaging the functioning of these bodies by promoting and appointing people that are vulnerable to obscure interests.
Numerous studies over the years have proven that processes like the selection, evaluation, promotion and disciplinary liability in the judiciary and the prosecutor’s office suffer from imperfect legislation, but also from the lack of will of these professions to initiate a clean up from within. Thus, self-government bodies decided to maintain the status quo instead of contributing to ensure independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism in their systems.
Under these conditions, the development and implementation of an external evaluation mechanism for judges and prosecutors is a vital precondition for achieving a genuine judicial reform that will generate tangible results in the medium and long term.