Gabriel Resources quest for unconstitutional law provisions

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Gabriel Resources quest for unconstitutional law provisions

12. December 2013 - In a press conference that took place today in Bucharest, the Alburnus Maior and Salvați Bucureștiul Associations have presented the abusive and unconstitutional provisions proposed by the latest trail to modify the Mining Law. The new bill was rejected in the lower chamber of the Romanian Parliament, as the 160 votes for were insufficient to adopt an organic law. The 22 abstentions and the 105 votes against prove the Romanian government's isolation in their attempt to promote a profound unconstitutional law that attacks property rights. This decision presents an unprecedented victory to Romania’s civil society and a heavy if not mortal blow to Gabriel Resources (TSX:GBU), the mine project owner.

Unconstitutional expropriation procedures, authorities’ obligation to issue notices, derogation from the Historical Monument Law and from the EU Water Framework Directive, all of these were denounced by the Romanian civil society. These provisions were the reason why, the day of the vote, hundreds of citizens occupied the political parties headquarters in Cluj Napoca and the office of the Romanian Ombudsman in Bucharest.

This law proposal has had a series of amendments during the legislative process, fact that generates concerns about the non-transparent way the Romanian government and some of the Romanian senators and deputies promote the interests of mining companies in the law process. Under the pretext of elaboration a general framework for mining industry, it has actually been taken most of the proposals from the special law for Rosia Montana. Through these, the owners of mining licences would have been given prerogatives and rights that were derogatory from all provisions for economical operators. Moreover, there would have been serious derogation from the constitutional rights of propriety, healthy environment, and access to justice and equal treatment before the law. Firstly, all the works concerning the geological prospection and exploration and those of extraction and processing of mineral resources would have been issued as overriding public interest. Therefore, this law proposal would have exceeded its own regulation domain because only the Framework Law of Expropriation no. 33/1994 can establish the issues of public interest.

Another amendment proposed that the holders of the mining licenses would directly acquire the concession of any public property found in the perimeter of the mining areas, without a public auction, breaching the principle of equal treatment, non-discrimination and free competition. The government would be obligated to start the expropriation procedures within 30 days from the moment the mining company has requested it and could expropriate any household and land in the mining area, following which they would be given to the disposal of the mining companies. 

The destruction of historical landmarks, cultural, religious , archaeological sites of great interest would be facilitated by granting a special status which would remove the need for archeological discharges or the relocation of historical monuments.

Last but not least even the right of access to justice and equitable process for impugning by the citizens or by organizations of documents obtained by mining companies would have become completely ineffective and illusory because the authorities would have had the obligation to reissue within 60 days since the request of the mining company a legal document canceled in court.

Through these measures, the initiator of the law wanted to put private mining companies ' interests above the national interest, and above the right to live in their own home and on their own land. These amendaments to the mining law would have been the dissolution of the State, since the State was substituted by companies in relation to citizens.

"We will monitor the legislative process in the Parliament to ensure that such deviations will not occur and that the last hour amendments are unlikely to be adopted in order to favor mining companies ," added Stefania Simon, Legal Coordinator at Alburnus Maior.

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