SPEAKER of Parliament Pavol Paška has met with the representatives of opposition to present them changes to the judiciary proposed by Prime Minister Robert Fico and Justice Minister Tomáš Borec in January. To pass some of the changes, which require a two-thirds majority, opposition votes are needed.

Some opposition deputies say they cannot imagine supporting the changes. Moreover, also some judges disagree with the plan proposed by the ruling party.

The proposed changes include strengthening the powers of the Judicial Council. They should also tighten the criteria for selecting judges and provide criteria for issuing security clearances to judges. The draft further introduces judicial ethics as a part of the constitution. The proposal also includes dividing the posts of head of the Supreme Court and chairman of the Judicial Council between two officials and increasing the accountability of judges, the TASR newswire wrote.

Paška claimed he wants to be a guarantor of the changes and wants to find mutual agreement over them. He said he hopes that the final proposal will be discussed at the parliamentary session which starts March on 18. Because of some calls from the opposition that the changes are linked with the presidential elections, he promised to postpone the discussion to the date after the second round run-off, the SITA newswire reported.

Former Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská says she cannot imagine supporting the proposal, as it contains several risky measures. It, for example, does not follow only the changes to appointing chair of the Judicial Council, but fundamentally changes the creation of the whole council and it also broadens the competences of president, as reported by SITA.

According to Fico, changes to the Slovak judiciary require constitutional changes and therefore a deal with the opposition.

“If we fail to find agreement, no changes will take place,” Fico told the press on February 20, as quoted by TASR.

Meanwhile, the Association of the Judges of Slovakia warned against the planned changes. It mostly criticises the project of security clearances, SITA wrote.

Source: TASR, SITA

For more information about this story, please see: Top justice post selection to change

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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