#Romania – Secret protocols between intelligence services and prosecutors ruled unconstitutional #SRI

| January 18, 2019

Secret protocols between prosecutors and the country’s intelligence service, the SRI, were “unconstitutional”, according to a ruling by Romania’s constitutional court, writes Martin Banks.

The decision was reached earlier this week and comes just days after Romania assumed the EU presidency, the first time it has found itself at the helm of the EU since it joined the 28-strong bloc in 2007.

The secret protocols between the General Prosecutor’s office and the intelligence service were signed between 2009 and 2016 and some have been declassified.

The protocols were identified by a committee of the Romanian parliament.  Of the 565 they identified, 337 remain in force.

The existence of such protocols causes particular concern in Romania.

The country’s history under the now discredited Ceausescu regime meant that in the years that followed, the intelligence services have been precluded from participating in the criminal justice system to avoid a repeat of the repression of that era, when the then “Securitate” used the courts to impose their will.

A Romanian law from 1992 states that the SRI “cannot carry out criminal investigation actions apart from issues of national security, when they are permitted to play a supporting role”.

The revelations of the parliamentary committee show that the intelligence services used the protocols to press organizations such as the National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) to act on its behalf.

The relationships promoted by the protocols mean that individuals can be targeted by the intelligence services for arrest.

Not only does this situation go against Romanian’s own constitution, but it also falls far below European standards.

No other EU member state allows their intelligence services to operate this way, which is essentially a parallel justice system existing outside the rules imposed by Romania’s constitution.

Those in the Romanian judiciary have voiced their alarm about the situation, with the National Union of Romania Judges saying the rule of law is “incompatible with the administration of justice based on secret acts”.

It is understood that in some cases the involvement of the intelligence services was formal but that in the majority of cases, the protocols led to a discreet coordination with other agencies, making it difficult to trace.

Recent tapes that became public in Romania show prosecutors from the National Anti-Corruption Directorate, one of the agencies that had secret protocol arrangements with the intelligence services, openly inventing and creating files against judges that were expected to rule against the wishes of the DNA or intelligence services.

There is also rising concern about the implications of this court ruling for thousands of investigations and court cases that took place during the time period that these secret protocols have been in place.

Speaking on Thursday (17 January), one Bucharest-based lawyer told EU Reporter: “This is nuclear. Can you imagine how many cases were conducted under these protocols and how many people might be imprisoned as a result of being targeted under these protocols?

“The existence of the protocols already rocked many people’s faith in the Romanian justice system.

“Now the Constitutional Court ruling confirms that fear as being completely justified.”


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