How does the Italian Minister of Justice want to solve the problem of Romanian fugitives

The Minister of Justice, Alina-Ștefania Gorghiu, had, on Tuesday, a meeting with her Italian counterpart, Carlo Nordio, during which they signed a Joint Declaration on the development of the partnership in the field of justice between the two institutions. The Italian minister stated with regard to the problem of Romanian refugees who choose his country as their destination that “the situation must be changed” and he hopes that measures will be taken at the level of the judiciary or at the level of legislation.

The Minister of Justice, Alina-Ștefania Gorghiu, and the Italian counterpart, Carlo Nordio Photo: MJ

According to the Ministry of Justice, the Declaration aims to establish the best practices for the intensification of bilateral judicial cooperation and was signed in the context of the official visit of the Minister of Justice to Rome, at the invitation of the Italian counterpart.

According to the quoted source, both sides pointed out the importance of this meeting, in the context in which the Prime Minister of Romania and the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic signed, on February 15, 2024, the Joint Declaration on the development of the consolidated Strategic Partnership between the two states.

The problem of Romanian fugitives

Intensification of bilateral judicial cooperation in criminal matters is the objective of this mission in Rome. We focus on two important dimensions for both Italy and Romania: the execution of the European arrest warrant and the transfer of convicted persons. In 2023, the Romanian state brought 120 fugitives from Italy, and in 2024, so far, 24 have been handed over to the country. Romania sends a strong message by bringing fugitives to the country, regardless of their name. The law is the same for everyone. There is no preferential treatment. The execution of the sentence must be done in the Romanian penitentiary system”, said Alina Gorghiu, on the occasion of signing the document.

According to the Ministry of Justice, it was also decided to establish a working group between the two institutions, dedicated to improving judicial cooperation in criminal matters, “inn especially for the implementation of European arrest warrants and the recognition of court decisions in criminal matters, on which occasion a guide of best practices in the application of the European arrest warrant will also be drawn up”.

The Romanian official emphasized that “many convicted Romanians choose to flee to localities assigned to certain courts in Italy because the jurisprudence of those courts favors the rejection of the European arrest warrant”. Thus, according to the minister, there have been cases in which these fugitives either escape punishment or spend years in freedom in Italy. “It is difficult for us to understand and we propose to identify solutions together with the Italian side“, Gorghiu added.

Italian Minister of Justice: The situation must be changed

The Italian Minister of Justice stated that “eit's unacceptable” that the convicted persons should not be handed over, emphasizing the need to change the situation at the level of the Italian judiciary or even the legislation.

Either the Italian judiciary finds solutions according to the current Italian law to hand over all persons convicted and requested on the basis of European arrest warrants in EU countries, friendly, partner, safe countries, or a normative solution must be found to revise the Italian law. It is unacceptable that people correctly convicted in an EU member state and detained in Italy are not handed over. Once there is a final sentence, it is not rational for Italy not to accept surrender. So, either the Italian judiciary finds a solution, or we will make all possible efforts to change the legislation. We have this conviction that the situation must be changed”, stated Carlo Nordio, thanking for the constructive dialogue in Rome.

Regarding the conditions in Romanian penitentiaries, the Minister of Justice stated that: “we will inform the Italian authorities every time about the fulfillment of the conditions in the Romanian penitentiaries, according to European standards. Romania continues the reform of the penitentiary system. In 2023, we built more than 1,200 places of detention in the country, and in 2024, 3,000 new places of detention are to be built.”

According to the Ministry of Justice, in the context of the meeting, other topics were also addressed, such as “Italian expertise in the field of mediation and other alternative conflict resolution methods and the establishment of a Romanian-Italian working group in this regard“.

The Minister of Justice invited the Italian counterpart to pay a visit to Bucharest, and he accepted the invitation.