Justice Minister Viera Petríková (a nominee of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)), who has only been in her ministerial post for three months, is to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament within seven days, it was confirmed on October 13.
Representatives of the three main opposition parties – Lucia Žitňanská of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ); Daniel Lipšic of the Christian-Democratic Movement (KDH); and Gyula Bárdos (of the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) – have handed in enough MPs' signatures to summon an extraordinary parliamentary session with a no-confidence motion in Petríková on the agenda.
Lipšic described the current situation as “indecent” and said it is not brave and honourable judges who have the upper hand in the Slovak judiciary, rather it is often those who are prosecuted for corruption who rule the roost. "It's disputes between politicians that take precedence, not the disputes of ordinary people. We often witness the release of dangerous criminals from custody and the justice ministry doesn't take any action despite its legal options. People deserve a better and higher-quality judiciary," he declared after handing in the 48 signatures (to initiate the vote). Speaking about who is responsible for this state of affairs, Lipšic didn't point the finger only at Petríková, but also at the entire ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Robert Fico, who, Lipšic claims, allowed the HZDS to seize control of Slovakia’s courts.
Asked what would change if Petríková was dismissed, the former justice minister said that it was the duty of politicians to defend the 105 judges who recently expressed their dismay at the situation in the Slovak judiciary (in an open letter entitled 'Five Sentences'). "The only thing that has any influence on this coalition is the pressure of public opinion," he told the TASR. Representatives of the opposition have been expressing concerns about the state of the Slovak judiciary for some time. For example, they have pointed to controversial disciplinary proceedings aimed against judges who have criticised Supreme Court chairman Stefan Harabin (previously a HZDS-nominated justice minister) and the situation in the justice system. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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14. Oct 2009 at 10:00