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Judges oppose curbing immunity

THE JUDICIAL Council is opposed to plans to scrap judges’ immunity from criminal prosecution and has adopted a negative stance on a potential change in the constitution that would enable this.

THE JUDICIAL Council is opposed to plans to scrap judges’ immunity from criminal prosecution and has adopted a negative stance on a potential change in the constitution that would enable this.

The council sought the comments of judicial councils at local courts and said it formulated its stance based on their responses. The council said it considers the immunity of judges to be a guarantee of an impartial and unbiased process for every participant of a court trial, the Sme daily wrote on April 17.

“Due to the fact that politicians started [debating] this topic as a populist topic, the Judicial Council took a stance and is against legislative intentions to change the current legal status quo,” Judicial Council president Štefan Harabin said, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Both the ruling Smer and the opposition parties support dropping judicial immunity.

Defenders of judicial immunity say it secures free and independent decision-making by judges and prevents abuse of the prosecution system to influence judges, the TASR newswire wrote.

A constitutional law to curb MPs’ immunity was passed with support from all parliamentary parties and there is wide agreement over the issue of scrapping the immunity of judges too, head of the Smer parliamentary caucus Jana Laššáková told SITA, adding that the working group tasked with preparing the constitutional amendment is interested in the opinion of the Judicial Council, but a solution will have to be found.

So-called functional immunity for judges would be retained, however, which means judges could not be subject to criminal prosecution for their legal opinions or decisions, Laššáková noted.

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