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Judiciary reform, protection of traditional marriage amendment advances to second reading

THE CONSTITUTIONAL amendment drafted by Smer and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) containing judiciary reforms and a definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, has advanced to the second reading. It was backed by 103 MPs out of 126 present.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL amendment drafted by Smer and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) containing judiciary reforms and a definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, has advanced to the second reading. It was backed by 103 MPs out of 126 present.

In addition to Smer and the KDH, the bill was supported by deputies from Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), Mikuláš Dzurinda of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) and some independent MPs, the SITA newswire reported on March 25.

The vote is a victory of common sense and responsibility over politicisation and ideology, said KDH chair Ján Figeľ.

“I am glad since it is a victory for the people,” Figeľ said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Among the judiciary reforms, changes include stripping the president of his power to select members of the Judicial Council, and an increase in the number of council members elected and dismissed by parliament and the government. Under the current law, eight members of the council are elected by judges, while the president, parliament and the government choose three each. The amendment proposes to decrease the number of council members from 18 to 16, with eight elected by judges, and four each by parliament and the government.

Moreover, the function of the Supreme Court president and the Judicial Council chair, currently held by one person, is to be split into two posts. The Judicial Council chair will be elected by council members, SITA wrote. One person can only be elected for two consecutive terms.

The Judicial Council chair will be able to file complaints over laws that pertain to the judiciary. Moreover, judges will be stripped of their criminal immunity, which means that approval from the Constitutional Court will not be needed in order to prosecute judges. However, as in the past, it will not be possible to prosecute judges for their rulings, as reported by SITA.

Another change pertains to the new power of the Judicial Council to secure the fulfilment of tasks within the public control of the judiciary, and punishing judges for violating the moral and professional principles of their profession. Toward that end, judges will prepare a code of ethics.

The amendment also defines marriage as “a unique union between one man and one woman”, and ensures its protection in the constitution.

The deputies have still not come to an agreement over the security clearances of judges, which were part of the original changes introduced by Smer.

If cleared in further readings, the changes may come into force in September.

Source: SITA, TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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