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Romania’s prosecutor offices struggle with historically low staffing levels

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Following the retirement of 165 prosecutors last year, amid ongoing legislative changes and public discussions about judicial salaries, Alex Florența, Romania’s general prosecutor, revealed on Wednesday that the offices are currently facing a historically low staffing level of just over 69%.

Last year, only 40 prosecutors entered the system. Out of 235 prosecution units, only 10 are fully staffed, Florența said during the presentation of the Public Ministry’s activity report for 2023.

By the end of 2023, the number of prosecutors in the Public Ministry had fallen to an all-time low of 69.22%. The shortage is particularly acute in the higher prosecutor’s offices, which investigate serious crimes such as murder, tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

The situation is equally dire for managerial positions, where” out of 655 positions within the Public Ministry (including DNA and DIICOT), 370 remained vacant at the end of 2023, representing a vacancy rate of 56%,” Florența said.

Even more alarming is the situation in the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice (Romania’s Supreme Court), where the staffing level reached only 39.58% in 2023. Legislative changes triggering mass retirements and a lack of motivation among prosecutors to seek promotions or transfers are the main factors contributing to this crisis.

However, despite these challenges, 546,000 cases were resolved last year, an increase of 1.7% compared to 2022. Florența also noted a 3.9% increase in the number of cases referred to court and announced an 11.3% decrease in the number of defendants ultimately acquitted compared to the previous year.

There was also an increase in the number of defendants brought to court last year accused of committing crimes in categories such as buying influence, influence peddling, migrant smuggling, bribery, drug trafficking and illicit consumption.

(Cătălina Mihai | Euractiv.ro)

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