NGO reports that some Slovak courts are refusing to make their verdicts public

According to the civic association Citizen, Democracy and Accountability (ODZ), several regional and district courts in Slovakia are not acting in accordance with the law on access to information and are refusing to permit the public to obtain the full text of their verdicts, the SITA newswire reported. ODZ monitored Slovak courts in the fall of 2010 in a follow-up similar to its 2009 survey. The NGO’s director, Šarlota Pufflerová, told SITA that some of the courts which are refusing to publish their verdicts have argued that they do not have a legal basis for making their decisions accessible to the public. She added that some courts do not communicate with the public at all even after they are asked to publish a specific verdict.

According to the civic association Citizen, Democracy and Accountability (ODZ), several regional and district courts in Slovakia are not acting in accordance with the law on access to information and are refusing to permit the public to obtain the full text of their verdicts, the SITA newswire reported.

ODZ monitored Slovak courts in the fall of 2010 in a follow-up similar to its 2009 survey. The NGO’s director, Šarlota Pufflerová, told SITA that some of the courts which are refusing to publish their verdicts have argued that they do not have a legal basis for making their decisions accessible to the public. She added that some courts do not communicate with the public at all even after they are asked to publish a specific verdict.

According to the monitoring, only ten out of twenty addressed courts answered the request for information to a full extent. Three courts did not answer at all. In 2009, the association requested information from all 62 Slovak courts. Eight provided no answer and 21 did not make their decisions public. Several courts provided their findings but refused to make public the reasoning of the verdicts. Several courts also sent their reply after the deadline set by the law.

The Ministry of Justice has elaborated an amendment to the relevant laws, according to which courts will be obliged to publish all their final judgments together with the reasoning online, SITA wrote. Non-final judgments will have to be made public upon request from the citizens. Publishing decisions online will be fully operational from January 1, 2012. Until then, the information will be available on request.

Lucia Žitňanská, the Minister of Justice, said that this was routine in Europe and that in the United States the entire case file is available to the public.

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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