As part of its ambitious plans to overhaul the judiciary in Slovakia to make it more transparent and close the scope for corruption, the government passed an amendment to the Act on Judges yesterday.
The degree of law enforceability in Slovakia has been an issue for some time, with it being subject to criticism and to suspicions of corruption and manipulation. Now the government wants to change this state of affairs with its new law.
After the draft bill was endorsed in parliament, justice minister Lucia Zitnanska said that although the chosen path might be a new one, it should see the courts open up more to public control. She was referring not only to procedural issues, but also the general lack of trust in the judiciary and the level of corruption perceived in it.
The new law, which went against the veto of President Ivan Gasparovic, should take effect in May and will be the first of more changes to come. Among other things, certain court judgements will now be published on the internet and the designation of judges to specific cases will be more transparent with less chance of manipulation.
Enforceability of the law is perceived by investors as one of the main problems they encournter in Slovakia, and the country ranked worse than all its V4 neighbours in the most recent Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, in which Slovakia dropped 5 spots year-on-year.
The opposition contests the changes and the Smer-SD party of Robert Fico might even lodge a petition with the Constitutional Court over the new plans. Head of the Supreme Court, Stefan Harabin, who himself has been accused of corrupt practices, was once again not allowed to speak in parliament yesterday before the vote was taken.