The Council of the Union of Lawyers of the Republic of Moldova (Moldovan National Bar Association) has announced a protest against the proposed amendments to the Law on the Bar. The recently proposed legislative bill suggests excluding art. 52 par. (2) from the above law. This article provides that “a lawyer cannot be detained, subjected to coercion, arrested, searched without a prior consent by the Bar Council, except for the cases of flagrant offenses».
”This provision was adopted by Moldovan Parliament at the beginning of 2021 as a guarantee against the abuse against legal professionals by law enforcement agencies. The Moldovan Bar deems this amendment an encroachment on the independence of Moldovan lawyers. There have been previous cases of abusive persecutions against lawyers in the Republic of Moldova and this amendment is seen as aiming to remove one of the guarantees provided for by law.
The motivation of the authors of the bill is that no one should enjoy immunity against criminal investigation, particularly in cases of corruption. Such immunity has been recently removed for judges. Previously, it was required to request the approval of the Supreme Council of Magistracy in order to launch a criminal investigation against a judge. However, lawyers consider that the authors who have proposed the amendment completely misunderstand the concept of the immunity against criminal prosecution. In the case of the Law on the Bar, it does not provide any such immunity to lawyers. It is still possible to launch a criminal investigation against any lawyer without requesting a prior consent of the Bar association. Such consent is only required for detaining, arresting, or performing a search on a lawyer.
Moreover, lawyers represent an independent profession with lawyers not being public servants. Their role is to ensure independent defense and legal representation to all members of the public. Therefore, it shall not be confused with the functions performed by other key legal professionals (judges, prosecutors) who are public officials.
Following the decision of the Council of the Moldovan Bar of 17 January 2022, all lawyers participating in judicial hearings on 18 and 19 January 2022, will wear white ribbons on top of their robes and, if the Parliament does not withdraw the bill, they will go on strike and will suspend their activities for the period of 20-24 January (including the lawyers who provide legal aid guaranteed by state).
Text by Alexei.Ghertescu, Managing Partner at Ghertescu Rogac — Law Firm
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