The Activity of Parliament during 21-25 April 2003
29 April 2003
During this period of time, the Parliament examined and adopted a series of highly important legislative acts, both related to the economic activity and to the juridical reform. Most debates were provoked by the draft laws on reforming the judicial bodies through the suppression of tribunals. Opposition representatives insisted that by suppressing tribunals the current government seeks to get rid of certain "uncomfortable" judges and are thus prejudicing citizens' rights of access to justice. Those who supported the drafts argued for changing these laws by saying that these changes will ensure full access to justice and will make justice more efficient by reducing the time between filing a complaint and getting the final court ruling. In authors' opinion, the proposed laws introduce enough guarantees for the judges now serving in the bodies liable for suppression to preserve their positions, and hence the opponents' accusations are not founded.
I. The New Code of Civil Procedure
ADEPT comment: The Parliament adopted in the second reading several chapters of the new Code of Civil Procedure of the Republic of Moldova, including provisions on the procedure of judicial debates, the adoption and contents of the decisions of judicial bodies, the suspension and termination of civil trials, the drafting of trial documents (minutes, conclusions etc.).
The Parliament decided to approve a number of changes whereby the provisions on the procedure of examining causes in the absence of the plaintiff have been excluded from the new Civil Code.
The new Code is to be adopted and enforced by mid-June when the Constitutional term for the judicial reform in accordance with the new structure of judicial bodies expires.
II. Law on the Evaluation of Appropriateness of Products
ADEPT comment: The law establishes the regulating framework necessary to evaluate the appropriateness of products, equipment, processes, technologies, production and quality systems, services etc. in order to ensure national security, prevent fraud, ensure the respect of rights, protect the life, health and wealth of consumers. The law is applied on all products in the market and the ones used in the Republic of Moldova. The law makes a number of exceptions, and refers to strategic goods and products from specially regulated fields.
Article 2 of the law defines the specialist terms and notions used, and defines "evaluation of appropriateness" as any activity (collection of samples, trials and inspections, evaluations, verifications, certifications, registrations and standardising) aimed at confirming, directly or indirectly, the fact that the applicable requirements are being observed.
Article 4 determines the basic principles of the evaluation of appropriateness, and Article 6 provides that the system of accreditation bodies includes the Council for Accreditation, the organisation for accreditation, the Commission of Appeals and specialised technical commissions.
The Law establishes the foundations whereby an accreditation may be refused, suspended or withdrawn.
One of the most important provisions of the law refers to the obligatory labelling of all produces liable for the certification of appropriateness with the relevant national brand, or with other approved brands. The obligation of labelling rests with the supplier who releases the produce on the market.
The law also establishes that the maximum tariffs for services provided within the system of accreditation will be established by the Government, and the payments will be made by the beneficiary of accredited services (the supplier).
The law recently voted by the Parliament will substitute the Law on Certification.
III. Law on the Prohibition of Industrial Fishing
ADEPT comment: The adopted Law provides for the derogation from the Law on Animal Regnum and bans industrial fishing in rivers Nistru and Prut, as well as in the accumulation lakes Dubasari and Costesti-Stinca for a three-year term.
The law was adopted despite the counter-arguments of the Commission for Environment and the Negative Opinion of the Government, which argued that where trans-border agreements and economic grounds are missing and where licences for industrial fishing have already been issued the introduction of prohibitions is groundless and might cause authorities certain problems, such as conflicts with licence holders.
Apart from this, the fishing council has ruled that the temporary prohibition of industrial fishing is not an efficient solution for the recovery and preservation of aquatic resources.
This legislative initiative was made by the communist deputy Iurii Cicinov, who used to be Chairman of the Association of Hunters and Fishermen and still has influence within this organisation and whose interests he promotes in the Parliament, Government and other state institutions (we only need remind of the laws on trade in weapons and munitions in the Association's shops).
IV. Law on the Amendment of State Budget for 2003
ADEPT comment: Through this law, the Parliament exempted from value added tax the following:
- the imported materials for the manufacturing of glass melting ovens;
- 12 church bells imported for ensuring the holding of the first international contest of church bell ringers.
We need to remind that, in the first decade of June, on the occasion of 190th anniversary of the Chisinau and the Entire Moldova Metropolitan Church, a contest will be held, on which occasion a special bell tower will be built on the territory of the tourist resort "The Moldovan Village" in Criuleni. This initiative was supported by the President of Moldova, and the special bells will be imported from Belarus.
V. A number of laws on the judicial reform and the upgrading of the system of judicial bodies were adopted by Parliament in the first reading.
ADEPT comment: These laws are the follow-up of the changes made to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova at the end of 2002, whereby the tribunals and the courts of appeal will be re-organised within a six-month term. The laws propose that the tribunals from the towns Chisinau, Balti, Bender, Cahul and Comrat be re-organised into courts of appeal, and the economic court of Moldova be re-organised into the Economic Court of Appeal. At the same time, the current Court of Appeal is to be abolished.
The drafts provide that judges serving in the re-organised courts are to be re-appointed to their positions through a decree of the President of Moldova, upon the proposal of the Superior Council of Magistrates. The judges of the Court of Appeals, which is to be abolished, will be proposed, pending on their consent, for transfer to vacant posts at courts of appeal and other courts or promoted to the Supreme Court of Justice.
It was these very provisions that have caused a negative reaction on behalf of the opposition, which took the proposed provisions as just another attempt by the current government to cleanse personnel in the judiciary system.
The law also includes a number of provisions on the methods of reorganisation of courts, of passing over assets and files, and of hiring personnel. Also, provisions have been included with regard to the competence and the method of trying civil cases during the transition period.
Apart from the legislative acts mentioned above, Parliament adopted in the first reading a series of changes and additions to the legislative acts regulating the activity of courts. These drafts have been proposed simultaneously by the Government and a group of deputies. There are essential differences between the two drafts, which are worth considering in more detail.
In the draft submitted by the deputies it is proposed that the organisational, material and financial support of courts be provided by the Superior Council of Magistrates. Thus, the prerogatives that are currently held by the Government and the Ministry of Justice could be essentially cut back, which fact would enhance the conditions for ensuring the independence of judges, whose material and financial support will not be used to influence them anymore. On the other hand, the Superior Council of Magistrates does not have the necessary structures to immediately put into practice the mentioned above prerogatives, and the lack of co-ordination, under the circumstances of a new judicial reform, but also of a new territorial administrative reform, would create chaos and endanger the very exercise of justice.
It is to be reminded that earlier, in 1999-2000, the issue of judicial self-administration was raised, but the then Parliament rejected the draft law on setting up a department for judicial administration under the Superior Council of Magistrates. At present, if the functions of self-administration are transferred to the Superior Council of Magistrates, it will be necessary to solve the problem of setting up a managing body, although the authors of the said draft law have not made any express proposals in this sense.
The draft laws mentioned here are to be adopted in the second reading in the near future, and then one will be able to see which opinion was more convincing: the one of the deputies or the one of the government.