The changes to the Judiciary Act, adopted on Thursday in the second reading in the parliamentary legal committee, caused a strong reaction. Prominent judges and lawyers have declared that this is a step towards eliminating the independence of the court. Conceived as texts to reduce the influence of the chief prosecutor in the Supreme Judicial Council, the changes were accepted with few but significant edits by the majority of GERB and DPS. Thus, the dismissal and appointment of the head of public prosecution was equated with that of the presidents of the supreme courts, which made the latter more vulnerable.
The changes adopted in this way may prove to be an obstacle to the formation of a government, they made it clear from “We continue the change”. Lena Borislavova commented that for them the cabinet was not at any cost. Candidate-prime minister Nikolay Denkov said that he does not know if it should be continued in this direction.
“GERB-SDS said that they would adopt the Krum Laws, but yesterday in a legal committee part of the texts were mutilated. It is very important to see how this part will develop. If we start replacing the texts, we start voting laws that will not achieve real judicial reform, then I don’t know if I would like to continue in this direction. This is much more important than ministerial postshe stated.
Judge Miroslav Todorova from the Sofia City Court came out with a sharp comment about the changes adopted on Thursday in the second reading. They established new rules for the appointment and dismissal of the chief prosecutor and the presidents of the supreme courts – cassation and administrative. The required majority was lowered from 17 to 13 votes. And despite the insistence of the Minister of Justice Krum Zarkov, the deputies from GERB and DPS liquidated the additional protection for the presidents of the courts. His idea was to free them with the so-called double majority, i.e. 13 votes plus a majority of judges elected directly by judges in the Supreme Judicial Council.
The idea of the changes was to reduce the majority for the dismissal of the chief prosecutor, but to preserve that for the presidents of judges. However, the MPs have equalized the rules for the big three.
The changes have not been finally adopted and are awaiting their approval in the plenary hall.
“Whether it is the result of a misunderstanding or it is intentional, but it is a fact – some of the amendments to the Judiciary Act may eliminate the independence of the court.
In the Judicial College, the members elected by the judges will still be a minority – 6 out of 25, but at the same time the National Assembly will not have the opportunity to elect judges in the parliamentary quotas of the SJC. And this happens despite international standards for the dominant participation of judges in the bodies that administer them.
In addition, it is proposed that the presidents of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court can be dismissed early with 13 votes. With a simple arithmetic operation, it is clarified that the release of the presidents of the supreme courts can be achieved with the votes of the 11 members of the Prosecutorial College and 2 members of the Judicial College, elected by the National Assembly, i.e. without the vote of any member chosen by the judges. And this happens despite the opinion of the Venice Commission that it is necessary to distinguish the status of the Attorney General from that of the Presidents of the Supreme Courts and it is recommended that the appointment and dismissal of the Presidents of the Supreme Courts should be provided for by a qualified majority plus a majority of the elected judges.
Meanwhile, the proposed assaults on the court are taking place in the course of a large-scale scandal of political and/or criminal abuse of the prosecutor’s office, in which all state efforts should be aimed at achieving the strengthening of the independence of the court, because it is the only protection of citizens from any arbitrary power“.
“Dear Members of Parliament, do not destroy the independence of the court and do not equate the Presidents of the Supreme Courts with the Attorney General. Some decide and only in composition, and the chief prosecutor alone decides and orders. The prosecutor is a party to the trial, but the master of justice is the court“.
This is what lawyer Valya Gigova wrote on Facebook. She urged the MPs not to forget that “that whatever prosecutors you create will accuse you, and whatever judges you provide will judge you“.
“If this is how the judicial reform begins, how will the constitutional reform end?!“, wrote lawyer Velislav Velichkov from “Justice for Everyone”.
We will not close our eyes
From “We continue the change” threatened that they will not turn a blind eye to “the outrages in the legal commission and the mutilation of the texts“. The changes have not yet been finally adopted and they are to be voted on in the chamber. On Thursday, however, the only deputy who actively insisted that they not be adopted in this form was Nadezhda Yordanov from DB.
Tags: independence court liquidated law deputies pass-