On Rule of Law Protests in Romania
Facebook message, Friday 3 February, 5.23 PM
There comes a moment when silence becomes guilty. I was hoping I would be able to postpone a message on this topic until 15 February, when the European Parliament will vote on the trade agreement with Canada, ‘the baby’ I grew up in the S&D Group and probably, unfortunately the only major strategic project in trans-Atlantic relations for quite a while. But it has become clear to me that we have a reached a point of unbearable tension, and therefore I will express myself, whatever the consequences.
I support the demand of protestors to withdraw Emergency Ordinance no. 13/2017 modifying the Penal Code and the Code of Penal Procedure. It is not only a legitimate request, but I believe this is also the wisest way out the crisis we find ourselves in, and to rebuilding a minimum level of trust, so necessary at the beginning of a government cycle, and also with a view to eventually finding a compromise, to the extent there are important things to solve. The place of such a debate, regarding essential rules of our society, is in the Parliament of Romania, democratically elected, with the calm and patient involvement of all actors who wish to participate in the debate.
In a normal democracy, having the legal power to do something does not necessarily make that decision good or fully legitimate. Majorities are won every four years, but communicating with society, looking for consensus and legitimacy, especially in essential matters, should be permanent. Sudden gestures provoke anxiety, doubt and rejection, they erode the minimum trust necessary for the functioning of a society.
Unfortunately we are in a crisis that is becoming ever deeper by each day that passes from the ten [before the full entry into force of the Ordinance], and we are soon risking to cross a point beyond which fundamental interests of Romania will be affected. Also unfortunately, Romania doesn’t have mediators enjoying everyone’s trust, or who would still dare to speak up given the sharpening of the conflict. Also unfortunately, we are sometimes allowing absolutely legitimate causes to hide personal or partisan political interests, and we are also allowing ourselves to be carried by the emotional wave of false polarities: some see ‘thieves’ everywhere, others ‘under-cover officers’. We need neither at the helm of the Judiciary, and I believe/hope that this suffocating paradigm doesn’t actually exist. In the past, in the name of justice, we supported people about whom we are now discovering that they committed or tolerated a lot of injustice.
If Ordinance 13 is withdrawn, I offer to find in the wide and civilised world several penal law experts of impeccable reputation, professors at major universities, to serve as mediators and moral and intellectual guarantors in the debate that will follow in Romania’s Parliament. Not because foreigners are better, but because we don’t trust each other, and we often do not accept even the grains of truth of the other side. We also have renowned lawyers in Romania’s civil society who manage to rise above partisanship and could just as well be part of this mediation exercise.
I hope, therefore, to hear soon the good news of the Ordinance being withdrawn, and its transformation into a law to be debated for as long as it takes, until a national consensus will be found in Romania’s Parliament.
Publicat de Sorin Moisă