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Judiciary-marriage amendment to be debated before election; opposition protests

THE MPs will debate the constitutional definition of marriage and judiciary reform during the campaign before the presidential election run-off after Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška changed the programme of the March parliamentary session, which started on March 18.

THE MPs will debate the constitutional definition of marriage and judiciary reform during the campaign before the presidential election run-off after Speaker of Parliament Pavol Paška changed the programme of the March parliamentary session, which started on March 18.

The controversial amendment, which joins the two initiatives, was proposed jointly by the ruling Smer party (whose presidential candidate Prime Minister Robert Fico will face independent Andrej Kiska, supported by all the opposition parties, in the run-off), and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH).

In the official invitation that Paška sent to the MPs, the amendment was point 23 on the programme, but after the session started, parliament’s website announced that the amendment would be discussed on March 20 at 9:00. Paška did not explain why he set an exact date for this particular amendment, the SITA newswire reported.

The opposition accused Smer of scheduling the discussion to suit the purposes of Fico’s presidential campaign. Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) chair Pavol Frešo proposed moving the amendment to the next parliamentary session, but Smer MPs refused, SITA wrote.

Former SDKÚ and now independent MP Lucia Žitňanská expressed her concern that justice in Slovakia could fall victim to this amendment and said there is no reason to discuss it in haste before the election.

Žitňanská is also concerned about Smer’s motivation behind its judicial reform package, saying that now that it is highly likely that Fico will not be elected president, “it is in the interest of Smer to quickly change the creation of the Judicial Council so that the president is excluded in nominating its members and so that the entire non-judicial part of the Council can be appointed and elected only by the current government of Smer and its parliamentary majority”.

While the amendment contains points that the opposition previously proposed, such as stripping judges of their immunity from criminal prosecution and dividing the dual post of Supreme Court head and Judicial Coucil chair, several new provisions have been included which have never been discussed before, Žitňanská noted.

“The most unacceptable part of the deal between Smer and the KDH is, however, the clearances of judges, even though they are not part of the draft law yet, they are to be inserted there in the second reading,” Žitňanská wrote in her statement, noting that unless the KDH agrees with the clearances, Smer will not pass the protection of marriage, which they endorse.

Meanwhile, Catholic Church representatives called on believers to pray for passage of the constitutional protection of marriage in parliament. The Conference of Bishops of Slovakia (KBS) called on the priests to pray during masses for the MPs to understand that every law should protect the wellbeing of the nation, the future of which depends on families, SITA reported.


Source: SITA, press release

Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
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