The Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity program in Romania is conducting a comparative analysis of the legislative framework on illicit enrichment and unjustified wealth. Previous work on anti-corruption and government transparency has focused on the implementation of money-laundering legislation and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
In its fight against high level corruption, the government of Romania has ratified several European and international legal instruments and adopted domestic laws with a view to implement effectively these instruments. However, efforts in combating corruption continue to fall short of public expectations. In particular government efforts are undermined by numerous cases of present and former public officials as well as business men who have accumulated wealth well in excess of what appears to be reasonable, considering their known sources of income.
The ABA is conducting a preliminary study and analysis of Romanian legal instruments, in the context of international standards and comparative good practices from other countries. The report will provide an initial informational basis and expert input for possible eventual amendments to the current legal framework governing proceeds of corruption, asset declaration, and illicit enrichment. The report will also address controversial issues regarding burden of proof and unjustified wealth, and analyze the recently adopted legislation on the National Integrity Agency (ANI) and its subsequent amendments. In April 2007, the ABA brought an expert to Romania to conduct in-country interviews. The expert will draft a report, to include recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of Romanian laws and institutions governing this area. A final version of the report will be distributed to the relevant Romanian authorities and interested international parties.
In October 2005, the ABA conducted an informational seminar to exchange perspectives, documents, and lessons learned and to discuss priority issues on implementation of money-laundering legislation in Romania in October 2005 in Bucharest. The ABA has conducted follow-up activities to the seminar, including working group discussions that bring together international experts, reporting agents and representatives of the National Agency for the Prevention of and Fight against Money Laundering. These sessions focused on drafting internal and interagency procedures to improve implementation of the law.
The Judicial Reform Program in Romania works to strengthen judicial independence and integrity, and to improve effectiveness of the judicial system. The two principal current projects focus on family and civil litigation and on criminal procedures. A third project on courts and domestic violence concluded on April 30, 2007.
Through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the ABA recently launched a "family courts" project in Romania. The project will develop recommendations for handling family cases and civil litigation in Romanian courts, as well as provide reform options to the governmental institutions in charge of long-term policy and institutional reforms. An assessment of family cases in Bucharest and Ploiesti courts was conducted in April 2007 by an expert court administrator in order to document practices, as a basis for recommendations including possible changes to operations, and to the code of civil procedures. Further research is underway to assess civil litigation in general, because most judges in charge of family cases handle other civil cases as well.
Under a grant from the United States Department of Justice, the ABA is implementing a project that aims to enhance the capacity of Romania's judiciary to apply criminal justice legislation and increase the effectiveness of implementation of new procedures dealing with arrest and search warrants. Over a 6-month period, the ABA convened a multi-disciplinary working group of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and police to document existing practices related to the approval of warrants and to identify desirable methods under existing laws. This analysis was then tested through three interactive judicial seminars on "Arrest and Search Warrants – Issues of Practice," based around hypothetical cases, the goals of which were to:
The curriculum materials for these seminars have been transferred to the NIM for incorporation into its continuing education seminars. A bench book will be developed in fall 2007.
With support from USAID, the ABA continues to supply technical and policy information to the Superior Council of Magistrates (SCM) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). This includes the production of advisory memoranda on a variety of issues, such as disciplinary sanctions and enforcement of the Code of Ethics, as well as participation in the working group tasked with monitoring the implementation of the 2005-2007 national judicial reform strategy. Under the same project, the ABA developed and piloted a training seminar on the Code of Ethics for judges, which is now part of the curriculum at the NIM. Previously, the ABA had commented on the draft judicial Code of Ethics; the majority of the ABA recommendations were incorporated into the final Code. Further, the ABA helped draft a Code of Ethics for court clerks in 2005 that was adopted by the Superior Council of Magistrates – one of the first such codes in the region. The process involved collaboration with the School of Clerks and 16 training seminars, in which over 500 clerks participated.
The ABA also continues to monitor court reforms based on its 2001-2003 pilot project, including the nationwide adoption of random case assignment software that the ABA produced with USAID funds.
The Women’s Rights Program in Romania addresses judicial knowledge of domestic violence issues. The goals of the program are to document best practices under existing laws, recommend improvements on legislation to the Government of Romanian, and develop a pilot training module for judges.
To this end, the ABA convened a multi-disciplinary working group of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and representatives of the National Agency for Family Protection, the MOJ, and the National Coalition on Domestic Violence to document existing practices and analyze the current legal framework. The conclusions of the working group, confirmed by participants in the seminars (described below), were that the existing legal framework was not viable and that the legislation should be rewritten rather than amended. The ABA drafted new legislative language, which it then circulated to the relevant stakeholders. Provisions related to the juridical aspects of the legislation have been communicated to the commissions in charge of revision of the criminal code and the Code of Criminal Procedures. The Commission in charge of drafting a new criminal code has adopted new language consistent with recommendations made under this project (definition of family members, sanctions).
The ABA has held six seminars, using the pilot training module on domestic violence for judges. Participants agreed that:
Project results to date were compiled in an interim report that is being distributed nationwide and will be posted, in both English and Romanian, in early May 2007.
On April 4th, 2007, the ABA, in collaboration with the National School of Clerks, held a pilot course on domestic violence for clerk trainees. On April 18, 2007, with funding from the United States Department of Justice, it conducted a pilot seminar on the same issue for prosecutors. These two activities generated observations and recommendations which will be incorporated into a report, to be circulated in May 2007.