AN ASSOCIATION of judges called For an Open Judiciary (ZOJ) believes the changes currently being prepared for the judiciary will demotivate judges and will not increase their credibility or improve the efficiency of the courts, the TASR newswire reported.

This reaction came in response to a series of proposals aimed at making significant changes to the work of judges, presented this week by Prime Minister Robert Fico and Justice Minister Tomáš Borec.

"The actual change would occur only in the event that the judges would actually start to abide by ethical rules, and if all the allegations of cronyism and nepotism are investigated, and the people found guilty are punished," said ZOJ President Katarína Javorčíková, as quoted by TASR.

However, ZOJ considers dividing the posts of the Supreme Court head and the chairman of the Judicial Council as a step in the right direction, as it will end the excessive concentration of power in the hands of one person. At present, both posts are occupied by Štefan Harabin.
ZOJ is also critical of the intention to have the Slovak National Security Bureau (NBÚ) review all judges. The association of judges recalled that after 1989 all judges had security clearance regardless of whether they had cooperated with the Communist secret police (StB).

"The integrity of judges who entered into the judicial system after the revolution should be secured by selection procedures," reads the ZOJ statement, according to TASR.

ZOJ considers the proposed changes to the laws on the work of judges to represent an application of collective guilt to all judges.

"Most judges have no guilt over the status quo of the Slovak justice system with their work or their behaviour," according to the statement.

ZOJ believes many judges, particularly judicial representatives – especially Harabin – lack credibility, and highlights the slipshod work of the Judicial Council.

Independent MP and former justice minister for the SDKÚ Lucia Žitňanská believes that the proposed changes to the judiciary will not go into effect before this year’s election for the Supreme Court chairman, according to TASR.

Harabin's terms as both the Supreme Court and the Judicial Council chair will expire on June 22.
If the government really wanted to adopt changes via the standard legislative process, it would have to submit the laws for comments by February 3, said Žitňanská in response to Prime Minister Robert Fico’s declaration during an RTVS political discussion that he would like to see a significant shift in the judiciary made by the end of June, before the end of the term of the current Supreme Court chair.

"These laws aren't even written yet and the Prime Minister and the Justice Minister want to discuss them with experts and the Opposition," said Žitňanská, who added that some of these proposals will require constitutional amendments, TASR quoted.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.