Chișinău Court Judges Resign Amid Vetting Concerns

The 20 judges of the Chișinău Court of Appeal, including its president, Ilie Chirtoacă, have tendered their resignations, purportedly to avoid the vetting process.

Chirtoacă, speaking on the "In Context" program aired by the public television channel, conveyed that some judges may also be motivated by nearing retirement age. He underscored the risk judges face of losing their positions or entitlement to severance pay or special pension should they fail the external evaluation.

"The decision is not unexpected," remarked Chirtoacă, noting that the Commission had notified all court judges of the impending process twenty days prior. He refrained from generalising, acknowledging that not all judges are departing solely to evade vetting. For some, the imminent age limit may factor significantly. Chirtoacă cautioned that judges within a year or two of reaching the age of 65 may find participation in such an exercise daunting.

The Superior Council of Magistracy website has published the CVs of eight judges who submitted their resignation requests out of the total 20. Four are slated to reach retirement age this year, with the remainder to retire in subsequent years.

However, uncertainties persist for the remaining judges. The less-than-satisfactory experience with pre-vetting and vetting exercises has engendered considerable risks. The vetting process, overseen by an international commission, scrutinises two aspects: ethical integrity and financial integrity. Ethical integrity encompasses conflicts of interest, requiring judges, by virtue of their office, to uphold specific ethical standards distinct from those of other individuals. Chirtoacă suggested that perhaps not all judges are suited for this examination.

He further emphasised that judges who have tendered their resignations may not be prepared to assume the risks associated with external evaluation. "Those who fail the vetting," he explained, "essentially forfeit their positions, severance pay, and, most critically, special pension benefits." Moldovan judges benefit from a special pension, which exceeds that of other professions, highlighting the significance of the outcome of the vetting process.

The Superior Council of Magistracy has accepted the resignations of half of the Chișinău Court of Appeal judges. The 20 magistrates opted to depart voluntarily before undergoing ethical and financial integrity evaluations by the Vetting Commission. Notably, the resignation request of one judge from the Cahul Court of Appeal was also approved. The examination of Chișinău Court of Appeal files will temporarily transition to judges from lower courts.

Translation by Iurie Tataru

Bogdan Nigai

Bogdan Nigai


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