Slovak judges are too tolerant of inappropriate behaviour by Supreme Court president Štefan Harabin and a number of controversial decisions made by the Judicial Council, which he chairs, states an initiative by a group of judges called 'For Open Justice' that was begun on June 24, the TASR newswire reported.
The judges of the initiative are also unhappy about recent public harsh criticism of all judges as a group and the initiative believes the critics have not made certain distinctions among judges and circumstances.
"Under the influence of specific events in the judiciary and statements made by senior political representatives of the coalition and the opposition, the public no longer sees any differences among judges, while pressure to curb the independence of judicial power is strengthening," the initiative states, as quoted by TASR.
The judges’ statement also specifically mentioned a party attended by several top judges and deputy prosecutor-general Ladislav Tichý during which those attending allegedly made fun of the fatal shooting rampage in the Bratislava borough of Devínska Nová Ves last year. According to the initiative, this confirms the need to set up an ethics commission for judges. For Open Justice published a code of ethics for judges on its website, www.sudcovia.sk, last year but it does not seem to have found much response.
The initiative also criticised Harabin's comments on a report drawn up by Günter Woratsch, Honorary President of the International Association of Judges, who said that Harabin is dominating the Slovak judiciary, adding that Harabin paved the way for this arrangement when he, as justice minister, transferred a number of powers from the Justice Ministry to the Judicial Council, which he chairs.
"Harabin is misusing [this situation] for his personal purposes, effectively utilising shortcomings in the system for his personal benefit," Woratsch wrote, according to the statement.
"Judicial Council Chairman Štefan Harabin at a Council session on June 21 resorted to offensive personal invectives against Mr. Woratsch. [Woratsch] has no reason to make untrue and unjustified assessments. The report was based on materials and talks with all sides of the political and judicial spectrum. The initiative strongly protests against the attacks on Mr. Gunter Woratsch," the judges’ group stated.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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27. Jun 2011 at 14:00