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  Nr. 3872 de marti, 6 martie 2007 
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A Controversial Minister: Monica Macovei
Monica Macovei is probably the most spoiled minister Romania has ever had. It is true that ever since being appointed she has been the beneficiary of a positive political context. She became a minister right after the PSD (Social-Democrat Party) lost in elections. A party claimed to be corrupted, including its former Minister of Justice, Rodica Stanoiu. This is the background against which Monica Macovei emerged, enjoying appreciation from President Traian Basescu, from the Democrat Party, the party Basescu used to be the leader of, and from European officials as well. The fact that she had never been politically affiliated was also an advantage, just as her former status as a civil society member, thought to be the last bastion of the fight against corruption under the Social-Democrat regime.
Disastrous relation with political parties
All these advantages made Monica Macovei try to reform the judicial system on her own rules. At first she felt she was entitled to defy the Parliament, an institution to which every minister is subordinate, after all. But Macovei faced most of the hardships regarding her mandate because of the poor approach to her relation with the Parliament ever since taking over. It is something that all parliamentary parties reproached her for during debates on all the bills she demanded the Parliament to pass. Even the UDMR (Democrat Union of Magyars in Romania), who supported her for two years at times when she was turning into a civic activist by her initiative meant to get some rights for the Magyar community, got call her in the Parliament "a Stalinist prosecutor", right after the minister accused that the UDMR representatives in the government were opposing the law on the National Integrity Agency. All the members of the National Liberal Party, starting with president Calin Popescu Tariceanu and ending with the most insignificant members, expressed dissatisfaction with Monica Macovei's disrespect for the Parliament. The PSD has been the most unrelenting critic of the minister, using complete munitions to fire against her from all points. The Conservatives came up with a simple parliamentary motion against the minister and senators passed it. But it didn't lead to her dismissal.
In conflict with prosecutors
Monica Macovei started her career as a minister by making promises on institutional transparency, magistrates' independence or random distribution of judiciary cases. But in February 22, 2005 Monica Macovei disobeyed her own principle and got into overt conflict with prosecutors. The minister demanded checks on the "Cocaine" case and asked the Prosecutor's Office for inquiry, because of press reports on evidence missing from the record. But the system's self-defence response was vehement. Almost all the prosecutors employed by the Prosecutor's Office signed a protest and asked that the minister should be dismissed, on behalf of independent inquiries and against "political interference in Justice". Apart from her overt conflict with prosecutors, Macovei was at war with magistrates too, because of the minister's opinion that the Superior Council of Magistracy was the main obstacle preventing the reform of Justice.
But there is more controversy on the activity of the Ministry of Justice. In the summer of 2005 the government headed by Calin Popescu Tariceanu took the responsibility to promote several laws described as the foundation of the judicial reform. But the political opposition and the Constitutional Court disagreed to several norms authored by Monica Macovei. The PSD claimed the new laws would make Prosecutor's Offices and prosecutors subordinate to Presidency and to the Minister of Justice. In February 9, 2006 there followed more. The Senate dismissed the law draft to consent to the government's emergency ordinance, meant to turn the National Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office into the National Anti-Corruption Department. The change was necessary because the former institution was disallowed to investigate on deputies and senators. The fact that the officials in power didn't attend that Senate session was the main reason why the emergency ordinance on the making of the National Anti-Corruption Department and its attributions was turned down. But not even when the voting started had minister Macovei joined senators, which prime minister Tariceanu presently criticized her for.
Civil society warnings
The long way to get the Parliament pass the Criminal Codes was another opportunity for everyone to take for criticizing Monica Macovei. The Foundation for an Open Society pointed at the minister's "criminal policy", worthy of a "a police-like state". Renate Weber, president of the latter NGO and formerly a Presidency adviser, pleaded against the modifications in the Criminal Procedure Code, arguing that they would lead to the undermining of judges' status. She warned: "Instead of progress towards a functional rule of law, with an efficient Prosecutor's Office, but under the control of the judge power, there is a risk that we may get to see a reconsolidation of the former prosecuting."
When the Criminal Procedure Code was under debate, both civil society and the political opposition were criticizing the means entrusted to prosecutors for intercepting the phone calls and emails of suspects for 48 hours without a warrant from a judge. Moreover, the new Code didn't mention how many times did the prosecutor have the right to make use of such norms, which could have led to numerous abuses. "Unacceptable" was the word to describe the interference in the lawyer-client relation by intercepting phone calls, as the confidentiality typical of this relation is essential to the guarantee for the right to defence.
The DIICOT mess
Abuses inserted in the law draft continued with the episode on the much controversial Ordinance 131/2006, allowing the DIICOT (Department for Investigation on Organized Crime and Terrorism) access to people's private computers with no warrant from a judge. To leave such a decision up to a prosecutor (even if a DIICOT one) was claimed to be an error, since a prosecutor was just an agent of the government, but not a person independent like a judge.
Civil organizations and the press criticized this normative document too, claiming that the Ordinance norms disrespected human rights and allowed investigators to commit abuses. The main concerns were about the Ordinance's points granting investigators the right to intercept phone calls and electronic mail and doing away with the confidentiality of bank secrets. It is interesting that many points because of which the normative document was about to be suspended are also to be found in the Ordinance on which the National Anti-Corruption was already established.
Carmen Epuran 
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