APPEAL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FOR SOLIDARITY TO SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE INDEPENDENCE OF JUDGES IN THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA
The Association of Judges of the Republic of Moldova "Voice of Justice" has sounded a worrying alarm and calls for the support of the international community regarding the protection of independent judges in the Republic of Moldova against abuses of the Judicial Council. By the Decision of the Superior Council of Magistracy of April 16, 2020, the young judge Mihai Murgulet was excluded from the judiciary only because he had the courage not to be obedient to the continuous pressures to make decisions according to the personal or political interests of influential judges. Mihai Murgulet is one of the few judges in the Republic of Moldova who had the courage to denounce the abuse of power, trafficking in influence and illegal interference in the administration of justice by several leading judges: former President of the Supreme Court of Justice, the former president of the Judges' Performance Evaluation Board, as well as by the President and Vice President of the Chisinau Court. Following the denunciation, only judges Ion Druta and Oleg Sternioala resigned voluntarily, but for reasons unrelated to the denunciation of judge Mihai Murgulet. Thus, less than a year after this denunciation, Mihai Murgulet was excluded from the judicial system precisely by the effect of the Judicial Council’s Decision of April 16, 2020, without any official justification from the Judicial Council’s members.
Judges in Moldova are initially appointed for a term of 5 years, after which they must be reconfirmed by the Superior Council of Magistracy until retirement age. However, this reconfirmation is discretionary and abusive, the Judicial Council not being obliged to motivate why some judges extend their mandate, and exclude others from the system, which happened to Judge Mihai Murgulet.
The civil society of the Republic of Moldova, the media, but also the Forum of Judges of Romania have already expressed their support for the principles underlying the efforts of the Association of Judges "Voice of Justice" of the Republic of Moldova, regarding Judge Mihai Murguleț, whose initial term of 5 years hasn’t been extended.
Through this approach of our Association to the international community, we want to highlight the existence of a systemic problem, likely to call into question the very independence of the judiciary. The Venice Commission also strongly recommends "permanent appointment of judges until retirement", without including probationary periods, such as the 5-year period in the Republic of Moldova.
"The Venice Commission considers that setting trial periods may undermine the independence of judges, as they may feel pressured to decide cases in a special way (…). If the appointment of evidence is considered indispensable, a refusal to confirm the judge in office should be motivated according to objective criteria and having the same procedural guarantees as if a judge were to be removed from office. ' Thus, the Association of Judges "Voice of Justice" raises an alarm about the need for legislative and jurisprudential developments that would undoubtedly confirm, in the Republic of Moldova, the independence of the judiciary, change the Constitution and eliminate this initial probation of 5 years, following that judges to be appointed from the start until retirement age.
At the same time, the Association of Judges "Voice of Justice" notes with regret the lack of massive solidarity of the judiciary in the Republic of Moldova with the situation of Judge Mihai Murgulet and its abusive and unjustified removal from the judiciary, which unfortunately indicates the existence of a fear of judges that they could have the same fate as Judge Murgulet.
That is why we call on the international community to show solidarity in support of and defend the independence of judges in the Republic of Moldova.