Romanian MPs plan to take ‘conflict of interest’ out of Criminal Law, replace it with new wording
The Judicial Commission of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies recently approved a draft law changing two articles in the country’s Criminal Law and taking out the ‘conflict of interest’ notion. The concept is now replaced with “using the position to favor certain individuals,” News.ro reported.
According to the reasoning behind the decision, “the amendment of the dispositions in articles 301 and 308 of the 286/2009 law on the Criminal Code, with further changes and additions, is necessary as follows: changing the title of the article 301 by changing the phrase ‘conflict of interest’ with the phrase ‘using the position to favor certain individuals’.”
The deputies also adopted an amendment stipulating that “the act of a public servant who, when exerting his job-related duties, made an act after which they obtained gains for themselves, their husband, or relative of up to the second degree, and brought a detriment to the public interest, is punishable with jail from 1 to 5 years and the interdiction to occupy a public position for up to 3 years.”
In its previous form, the same article also referenced benefits made to people to whom the public servant had “commercial or work relations in the past 5 years, or from whom they have benefits of any nature.” It also forbade the right to occupy a public position, without mentioning a time frame related to this, Mediafax reported.
Social Democrat Party (PSD) deputy Eugen Nicolicea, the president of the Judicial Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, argued that various confusions related to the article 301 made the change necessary. Changes to the two articles were also needed because “some did not understand when they were reading or they were not implementing [e.n. what they were reading],” the deputy said, quoted by Mediafax.
“There are several confusions at this point concerning article 301 on the conflict of interest. For instance, the definition of the conflict of interest is the participation or making of decisions in favor of individuals with whom you have a job, work, or family relation through which a gain was made for the respective person. This means that the judges at the Constitutional Court, when they vote for their president, they are criminals; deputies when they vote their president, having work relationships with the president, they are criminals; the president of Romania when he hired councilors with whom he worked, let’s say at the City Hall, he committed a crime,” the PSD deputy said.
He explained that the members of the Judicial Commission took the text of the article 21 in the Criminal Code and introduced in the article 301, so there would be a corroborated reading of the two texts. The lack of it lead to the incrimination of the employer for granting a bonus, the deputy argued.
When asked if public servants can hire their relatives, Nicolicea said there are no restrictions in this respect. Hiring “a brilliant relative to the detriment of a moron you not are related with is not a conflict of interests,” the deputy said, quoted by Mediafax. The Justice Ministry gave a “negative pass” to the same draft law as it is working on its own project to change the article 301 in the Criminal Law, which aligns this article with the decision of the Constitutional Law concerning the conflict of interest, News.ro reported.
“It is true that we remain here within the limits of the decisions of the Constitutional Court, the law maker is free to change more than the limits of the Constitutional Court. The law maker only has the barrier of the Constitution. The Court said only the phrase ‘commercial relations’ is unconstitutional,” Tudorel Toader, the Justice Minister, said, quoted by News.ro.
The way abuse of office and conflict of interest are defined were the main changes brought by the now repealed ordinance OUG 13. The passing of the ordinance brought about massive street protests at the beginning of February, the largest in the country in 25 years. Romania’s justice minister will send draft bill to change the Criminal Law to the Parliament
08 April 2017
Disclaimer: All views, opinions and accounts included in the RAI News Section are those of the authors; their inclusion does not imply official endorsement or acceptance by RAI. The News Section reflects the selection of topics of informative value to the organization and its stakeholders. Its content is taken from press/media sources and does not in any way reflect official RAI Secretariat policy. RAI Secretariat is not responsible for possible inaccuracies in media reports.