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Romania Table of Contents


Judicial System

The Ministry of Justice was responsible for the administration of justice and the maintenance of law and order. Under the Constitution, it was charged with defending the socialist order, protecting individual rights, and reeducating those who violate the country's laws, in that order of precedence. The Ministry of Justice exercised its authority through its main component, the Office of the Prosecutor General (Procuratura), which was established in 1952. The Procuratura operated the court system, decided jurisdictional questions, and compiled statistics on crime. It also oversaw the central criminology institute and forensic science laboratory.

Although the judicial system was theoretically independent, the PCR controlled it through its power to appoint judges and through the rules of party discipline. The judicial system took its orders directly from the Ministry of Interior and the security service. As a result, the government has never failed to win a conviction, according to Romanian dissidents. The GNA possessed formal authority to appoint the prosecutor general (attorney general) for a five-year term, and he was theoretically responsible only to it, or to the Council of State when the former was not in session. The prosecutor general represented the interests of the party and government in all legal disputes. He could petition the Supreme Court for interpretations of existing laws or propose changes in criminal statutes or new legislation to the GNA. He also appointed lower-level prosecutors in the judete. The Procuratura was supposed to investigate and resolve any charges that the Ministry of Interior or the security service had acted illegally or improperly. Yet the latter operated virtually unchecked in the late 1980s, following only directives issued by Ceausescu and the PCR. Below the national level, the Procuratura was organized in the forty judete, the municipality of Bucharest, and smaller localities. Its prosecutors had greater latitude to issue arrest warrants, review evidence, monitor investigations, arraign suspects, and file suits than did prosecutors in most legal systems.

Data as of July 1989