THE RULING Smer party, together with the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), introduced the constitutional changes regarding the judiciary on March 3. Some of the changes include a proposal to strip the president of his right to propose members for the Judicial Council and to increase the number of the council members appointed and dismissed by the government and parliament, the SITA newswire reported.
The amendment also proposes to define marriage as a unique union between a man and a woman.
Regarding changes to the judiciary, the amendment proposes to decrease the number of Judicial Council members from the current 18 to 16, with eight being elected by judges, while the government and parliament will elect four each. Moreover, it will be possible for the cabinet member to become a member of the Judicial Council.
Currently, the judges choose eight members, and the president, the government and parliament select three each. Another member of the judicial council was the chairman – the same person as the president of the Supreme Court, SITA wrote.
Under the new rules, the chairman of the Judicial Council will be elected by its members. It will be a person who is also a member of the council, which should result in the separation of the dual position of the Judicial Council chair and the Supreme Court president. The tenure of the Judicial Council members will be five years, and all of them will be eligible for re-election for one consecutive term, SITA wrote.
The Judicial Council chair will also be able to challenge laws pertaining to the judiciary at the Constitutional Court. Moreover, judges will lose their criminal immunity, which means that the police will not need the consent of the Constitutional Court to prosecute them. However, it will still need permission to take judges into custody, the proposal reads, as reported by SITA.
It will not be possible to prosecute judges for their rulings, however.
In addition to this, the amendment proposes a new power for the Judicial Council to secure the fulfilment of tasks pertaining to the public control of the judiciary. It will be necessary to discipline judges when they fail morally or professionally. The precondition for this state will be the existence of ethical principles whose aim should be to define the rules of judges’ behaviour that will be in compliance with laws and the constitution and which will not interfere in the principle of a judge’s independence. Moreover, the ethical rules should strengthen the public’s trust in an independent and impartial judiciary, as reported by SITA.
The amendment does not contain the controversial proposal for security clearances for judges. Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška however says that judges should undergo some kind of background check.
If passed by parliament, which will discuss it at its March session, the changes will come into effect on September 1, 2014. Seven MPs of the Ordinary People and the Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) party already declared they will support the amendment in the first reading, SITA wrote.
To read more about this story please see: Marriage now part of campaign
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
4. Mar 2014 at 14:00