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Amendment in second reading

THE CONSTITUTIONAL amendment drafted by Smer and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) containing judiciary reforms and a new definition of marriage has advanced to the second reading. It was backed by 103 MPs out of 126 present. The ruling party, however did not support the judiciary-related constitutional amendments drafted by opposition MPs even though they were submitted to parliament earlier, the SITA newswire reported.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL amendment drafted by Smer and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) containing judiciary reforms and a new definition of marriage has advanced to the second reading. It was backed by 103 MPs out of 126 present. The ruling party, however did not support the judiciary-related constitutional amendments drafted by opposition MPs even though they were submitted to parliament earlier, the SITA newswire reported.

The joint Smer-KDH bill received opposition support by deputies from Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO), Mikuláš Dzurinda of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) and some independent MPs.

KDH chair Ján Figeľ called the vote a victory of common sense and responsibility over politicisation and ideology, and “a victory for the people”, as reported by the TASR newswire.

Among the judiciary reforms, changes include stripping the president of his power to select members of the Judicial Council, an increase in the number of council members elected and dismissed by parliament and the government, and a decrease in the number of council members from 18 to 16. It also proposes splitting the function of the Supreme Court president and the Judicial Council chair, currently held by one person, into two posts. Moreover, judges will be stripped of their criminal immunity, although they still cannot be prosecuted for their rulings. The bill also proposes the preparation of a code of ethics in order to penalise judges who violate the moral and professional principles of their profession.

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

One of the amendments rejected on March 26 dealt with dividing the posts of the Judicial Council head and the Supreme Court president. Smer also blocked proposals to scrap judicial immunity and to introduce security clearances for new candidates who want to become judges.

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