Judges have no immunity in most European countries, British justice officials say

Senior British judge Lord Justice (John) Thomas, president of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, visited Slovakia on Tuesday, September 28, and met Slovakia’s Supreme Court Chief Justice and Judicial Council Chairman Štefan Harabin.

Senior British judge Lord Justice (John) Thomas, president of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, visited Slovakia on Tuesday, September 28, and met Slovakia’s Supreme Court Chief Justice and Judicial Council Chairman Štefan Harabin.

At the meeting, he pointed out that in most EU countries judges do not have immunity from prosecution. A debate is currently going on in Slovakia about whether to restrict the immunity which judges and MPs currently enjoy. Sir John went on to say that there have to be mechanisms in place that ensure a fully independent investigation in the event that a judge is suspected of having committed a crime. But a judge should not be immune from prosecution for violating common laws, he stressed.

British Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who was also on a visit to Slovakia on Tuesday, said that in the UK no MP or judge would even dream of having immunity from criminal prosecution. “If you drive drunk, you will be prosecuted regardless to whether you are a judge or an MP,” he told the SITA newswire after a meeting with his Slovak counterpart Lucia Žitňanská. He added: “Nobody in Britain dreams that people would be given immunity.” The independence of British judges is protected, while MPs have absolute freedom of expression while in parliament, he said.

Source: SITA

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

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