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March 04, 2021

Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: Respect for the rule of law and the independence of the legal profession in Romania

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2021 — The American Bar Association is concerned about a pattern of serious violations of lawyers’ rights in Romania. Several widely publicized cases have highlighted practices within Romania’s criminal proceedings that violate independence of the legal profession and the principles of the rule of law. These practices infringe on the traditional concept of a fair balance between the prosecution and the defense and undermine the professional confidentiality of the attorney-client relationship. Consequently, they threaten a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

The Romanian justice system has also deliberately engaged in practices that create fear among lawyers, deterring them from providing the protections and services that all defendants are due. Certain legitimate acts, for instance, performed by lawyers as representatives for their clients have been labeled as criminal activities. In other situations, lawyers have been accused of “crimes of opinion” for the legal reasoning they advance in support of their clients’ interests and for actions performed within the normal exercise of the legal profession.

The ABA appeals to the Romanian authorities to respect the rights of the legal profession and the guarantees of its independence, and urge that prosecutors, judges and other justice system officials be allowed to deliver fair and equitable justice free of political pressure.

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