The Superior Council of Magistracy's (CSM) proposed changes to justice laws were highly criticized by a reunion of a local branch of the Magistrate’s Association this weekend. The magistrates accused CSM of barging into their independence and of strengthening its control over magistrates.

Representatives of professional organizations gathering in the city of Cluj declared that CSM looks to strenghten the power of the judges but the judge’s independence remains at the discretion of CSM.

Among the criticized modifications were:

• Judges can be transferred against their will to smaller courts. The modification eliminated the accord of the magistrate to the transfer. CSM wants to exclude the possibility that incompetent magistrates be removed from office.

• Judge’s evaluation will be made exclusively by the heads of courts and not by independent evaluators or by a special commission. Magistrates consider the change an intrusion in their independence that would keep them at the will of their superiors.

• Heads of courts will be renamed by CSM without the need of a new test.

• A rule is dropped that says CSM members cannot run for a second term in the Council.

SoJust expert Horatiu Dumbrava says that the modifications will impose a closer relation between CSM and chiefs of instances.

The three draft laws will modify the laws passed by the former Justice Minister, Monica Macovei considered by most professional associations to be a step forward for the Romanian Justice system.

Justice Ministry representative, state secretary Katalin Barbara Kibedi claimed that the modifications were in order due to a European directive but failed to provide clear comments for each of the critical points.