Expert: “Authorities Will Not Convince Anyone that Justice Sector Is Doing Well”

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Christian RUSSU
While the authorities pretend that everything is under control, everyone understands the challenges which government faces trying to balance the interests of opposing clans in the justice system. And it cant be done without loss
“Dogs may bark but the caravan moves on” - this is the leitmotif that all the involved functionaries and structures of the PAS have been practicing in recent days when it comes to the reform of justice. Yesterday’s 19th Conference of European Constitutional Courts, organized by our CC, served as an additional reason for their ostentatious determination. Obviously, during the event, Maia Sandu, Igor Grosu and others had to answer many questions about the situation in the justice sector to the Presidents of the ECHR and the Venice Commission, as well as other prominent representatives of European institutions who arrived in Chisinau. The first response to them can be considered a seemingly willful decision of the Superior Council of Prosecutors to agree to check through the Vetting Commission the employees of the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office (APO). On 21 May, the SCP members granted the request of the Vetting Commission to send a list of APO prosecutors to check their financial and ethical integrity. Formally, the SCP fulfilled the legal requirement to provide the information requested by the Vetting Commission. It is not clear when the Commission’s request was sent to the SCP. However, the date of 14 May, when Veronica Dragalin’s letter against the member of the Commission Tatiana Raducanu surfaced online, provoking another powerful scandal in the long-suffering justice sector, is also within the five-day period. As if justifying themselves, Dumitru Obada and Aliona Nesterov, members of the Superior Council of Prosecutors, referred to the legal norms and procedures that they should apply in such a delicate case to the employees of Dragalin’s office. At the same time, the list of employees of the Prosecutor General’s Office, requested by the SCP, was immediately handed over to the Commission without any explanation. The Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office and Dragalin herself remained completely silent on the formal launch of the Vetting of prosecutors for reliability. Only her deputy, who is a new candidate for the post of Prosecutor General, made it clear that his subordinates are not at all afraid of passing the commission’s filter, despite all the questions they have about it. He even said that the failure of a financial probity check of each individual prosecutor would allegedly lead to the launch of an internal audit with the prospect of a criminal case. And this is much worse than the threats stipulated by law (dismissal, inability to work in in specialized institutions for 5-7 years, deprivation of the right to pension). Such demonstrative peace of mind of the APO leadership and readiness to boldly accept the challenge of the Vetting Commission allows PAS to convince everyone of the power of governmental mill, which is able to “grind: any, even the most stubborn representatives of the justice system. At the same time, there is a feeling that we will definitely not see examples of humiliating treatment of prosecutors, as was observed by the Commission in relation to judges. Veronica Dragalin has obviously defended her position. Besides, the high guests from Europe and sympathizers of Dragalin’s scandalous methods of work inside the country needed to see that the self-governing bodies in justice established by the authorities, as well as the reform of this sector, are not under the full control of some external structures. The refusal to approve the head of the Legal Resources Centre of Moldova as a candidate for the position of a judge of the SCJ was used as an example. At the last stage of the competition, Vladislav Gribincea suddenly failed to fulfil the formalities of submitting a medical certificate and letters of recommendation from persons respected in the national judicial community. The shadow director of the justice reform even criticized the Superior Council of Magistracy for such a decision, covered up by alleged unreasonable bureaucracy. Did the law prevail? Not at all. The CRJM head’s ostensible appeal to the SCM members and his call to abandon the “vestige” of recommendation letters, which Gribincea allegedly forgot about, can only look convincing to the uninformed. The director of this influential NGO office has himself repeatedly acted as a reviewer in similar situations, and he would not have been allowed to “forget” about such a formality. Ion Guzun, the chairman of the SCM, who got there from the CRJM, would be the first to remind him of this. To all appearances, there has been a banal plan adjustment of the authorities and Gribincea himself. The event I mentioned with the participation of representatives of European courts may be very symbolic in this respect. The fact is that a new draft law on the Constitutional Court is already in Parliament, which was hardly drafted without the involvement of our reputable NGOs. Besides, the mandates of several judges of the Constitutional Court are about to expire. And I dare to assume that the post of Constitutional Court judge will be much more important for PAS in the run-up to the election campaigns and undoubtedly more status for the most ambitious “mastermind” from CRJM. We can only guess what prospects will open up when the head of an NGO, considered to be the forge of the very PAS staff that keep the legal front in the most important areas, is empowered. Domnica Manole’s example of defiance will only add to the desire of the authority-hungry. As for the rival clan, with Veronica Dragalin at its head, the positions they have won back may give more than just the loyalty of the Vetting Commission to the prosecutors. The latter explicitly hint that they get members of the Vetting commission and the main beneficiaries in PAS by the balls. The statements of Iachimovschi about launching criminal proceedings on Andrei Spinu’s infrastructure projects are a clear sign of readiness to trigger another shock for the ruling regime almost beyond belief, if the clan’s demands are not satisfied. By the way, the negative consequences for PAS and especially for Maia Sandu of continuing the policy “leave no man behind” with regard to such toxic characters as Spinu can be seen with the naked eye by all those involved. Thus, because of this political short-sightedness, the opportunity to unite a large part of the right-wing parties under the slogan of defense of European integration and thereby ensure a win-win campaign for themselves was actually lost. The established electoral bloc Together waited unsuccessfully for Sandu to lead the movement of those willing to sign a “pact for European integration” and become, in the remaining months of her mandate, if not the president of all citizens, at least a unified candidate of the right. By the way, such a scenario would instantly kick out the most promising of the potential election candidates, Ion Ceban, whose party itself proposed and then agreed to sign the right-wing version of a “pact for Europe”. But the PAS caravan continues to burrow in the sand, pretending that everything is under control and everything is going according to plan. At the same time, the influential clans within the ruling party have to greased almost daily, giving out powers and other bonuses, otherwise the whole structure of the “yellow regime” risks collapsing even before the presidential elections. However, everyone has long been convinced that creating a picture for the authorities is more important than real deeds - but buying another sociological office that will put up beautiful figures will not save them in the foreseeable future.