[Varianta în română: Moldova greșește dacă se inspiră din modelul anticorupției românești]
Deutsche Welle informs us that the new Minister of Justice Sergiu Litvinenco announced after Tuesday’s meeting of the Supreme Security Council that the government initiated the dismissal mechanism of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Moldova. Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilița is also cited by the same source announcing that the general prosecutor will be fired.
„We have registered a project that amends the law on the Prosecutor’s Office, in the sense of including mechanisms to evaluate the activity of the Prosecutor General and to establish his disciplinary liability. Both mechanisms provide for the possibility of dismissing the prosecutor general, in justified cases, at the proposal of the Superior Council of Prosecutors (CSP) „, Litvinenco explained. He clarified that the amendments also address the change in the composition of the CSP, a section of the Judicial Council.
In other news, Spanish magistrates are crowding at the door of the justice commissioner in Brussels to complain that the Spanish Parliament wants to make changes to the Judicial Council appointment mechanism that will increase political influence over this self-regulatory body of the judiciary.
Isn’t this strange? When it comes to an aspiring country, like Moldova, the political intervention at the Judicial Council is good and the evaluation results of the (null and void) current general prosecutor are already known. He will be fired! The law will be changed retrospectively for him to be dismissed, that’s how the rule of law works. Spain, on the other hand, is clearly a case of political intervention, following in the footsteps of Poland to even get financial sanctions if it tampers with judicial independence. It is true that one is a member country and the other an aspiring country, and happy are those who can live by double standards without being bothered by their cognitive dissonance or moral scruples.
I have witnessed in Romania twice in the last 25 years such changes from our side, the reformers’ side, in order to expel prosecutors general, even a constitutional one once, and now, with the benefit of hindsight, I believe that political interventions to dismiss (even bad) prosecutors do not bring significant rewards, they just maintain the tradition of the political elimination of chief prosecutors, which will serve all sorts of cases and governments. From a more practical and policy-oriented perspective, I think that Maia Sandu (and the Moldovan Prime Minister) have only one important thing to understand.
Moldova will not be cleansed of corruption by any prosecutor, and the fact that the recent anti-corruption drive has endowed prosecutors with private Lexus cars should make Moldovans think twice. Moreover, no country has achieved good governance in the last 50 years through the courts, if we do not consider some British colonies like Hong Kong or some dictatorships (also with a British common law system) like Singapore. The reason is very simple. The problem cannot be part of the solution, and the judiciary in Moldova is a problem. It is probably the most corrupt in the world, although competition in the post-Soviet space is high. Its reform is necessary, but not in order to solve corruption: not only will it take too long and the results are uncertain (and this after we already know what to do, which I hope is the case, but I doubt it), but also because the problem is systematic. Corruption will be solved by reforms, administrative reforms in the case of public procurement, energy reforms, economic reforms. Justice is an important area that needs to be reformed, but not the instrument that will help reform others, as it has not happened in the Balkans or Ukraine. Not even in Romania or Bulgaria. Justice will be the last where results will be seen, unfortunately. The progress that has been made in Moldova has been, for example, banking reforms, and such reforms must continue. Even if the judiciary would not be the disaster it is (due to repeated political intervention and internal corruption), still a country within the Council of Europe does not have the same possibilities as Singapore did. Fortunately or unfortunately, we have to defend corruption while respecting human rights.
The idea that we can promote the cause of the rule of law and judicial independence via supreme defense councils and retrospective amendments to organic laws is tempting, but it has not worked anywhere yet. I heard that Maia Sandu has a great admiration for the Romanian model. It is a model where many politicians went to prison (especially some), but the energy that Gazprom sells at 200 euro / 1000 MC is still paid by consumers at 700 de euro (although a party was held ten years ago on the elimination of corrupt ‘energy brokers’, which I attended- they were the previous governments brokers, now we have others). Moreover, the current self-styled reformer Romanian PM still uses his own discretionary (‘reserve’ fund) to buy support in his party and coalition. When there are countries like Estonia or Georgia who had real successes in anticorruption, following Romania is a bad idea. Even if you control the secret services.
I wish success to these ladies from Moldova, a couple Romanians should be proud of, as they look infinitely better than their Romanian counterparts (PM-President), but they should be mindful not to copy the ‘wonderful’ Romanian experience and seek other, more solid, successful examples from the post-communist region.
Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (email@example.com) is a Professor of Democracy Studies at Hertie School in Berlin. Together with her research teams, she created the data repositories and fact-based governance indicators on www.europam.eu , www.opentender.eu, and www.againstcorruption.eu, aside from the Index for Public Integrity. In her earlier life as a civic activist she organized and led several civil society coalitions emulated in the Balkans, Latin America, Ukraine and Republic of Moldova.