Janša Defends Criticism of Judiciary

By , 13 Oct 2020, 19:03 PM Politics
Janez Janša Janez Janša Wikimedia - EPP Summit 2011, CC-by-0

Share this:

STA, 13 October 2020 - A meeting of top representatives of all three branches of power at the presidential palace on Tuesday saw Prime Minster Janez Janša defending the continuing criticism of the judiciary by arguing that respect first needed to be earned. President Borut Pahor urged respectful, responsible and dignified communication..

Pahor, who hosted the meeting dedicated to the "the principle of division of power - (self)limitation, mutual oversight and mutual cooperation", opened the discussion by saying division still meant cooperation was needed, this however also required proper form.

The meeting was prompted by Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič, who expressed the wish a suitable response is secured to inappropriate commentaries and attacks on the judiciary that have intensified recently.

Florjančič believes that the inappropriate attitude of individual representatives of the executive branch of power towards the judicial branch was increasingly also reflected in the public.

"Is it really not possible to find other means of communication than public labelling and denigrating of judges and thereby of the judicial branch?" Florjančič wondered.

Janša sees things differently, arguing that despite the division of powers "it is probably not forbidden to express criticism". He feels it would be hard to speak of democracy if this were not allowed.

The prime minister also finds it hard to listen about individuals feeling hurt because they are criticised, while judicial errors, as they were referred to by Florjanič, lead to people dying, having their family, career and life destroyed.

"And this is not happening in Yugoslavia but in independent democratic Slovenia, where we constantly pay lip service to human rights," said Janša, who himself spent time in jail in 2014 in a bribery case that was later sent back into retrial and eventually became statute barred.

"Respect needs to be earned," Janša added, calling on the judiciary to engage in critical self-reflection to see where the problems lie. If this reflection and reform is not possible in the judiciary - this is likely the case for politics - "those whose lives you are destroying will protest", Janša argued.

He would like the judiciary to open up, so everybody can monitor the trials and that the Slovakian judicial reform be studied. It is the judiciary that needs to initiate change, as this will help avoid political debates.

Parliament Speaker Igor Zorčič, who noted that it needed to be understood that the public demands answers each time a case fails to be resolved in court, agreed the judicial branch had to function in a way that made it accepted as legitimate by the public.

He however added that it was questionable if intensive criticism by somebody from the executive branch can contribute to this in any way.

National Council president Alojz Kovšca agreed that doubts harboured by the public and politics regarding the judicially are perhaps being expressed in an inappropriate fashion, too directly, too harshly, but the right to doubt is also the basis of democracy.

Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič added that criticism in itself does not constitute interference in an independent branch of power, it is however important to discuss things in a constructive manner. This view is shared by State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa and Constitutional Court President Rajko Knez.

The meeting also touched on calls to end parliamentary appointments of judges, with Florjančič arguing it was hard to understand how parliament can reject judges that were picked on the basis of professional criteria by the Judicial Council.

While he does not see how it is possible to get quality appointments this way, Zorčič suggested it can hardly be expected of the legislative branch to just rubber-stamp what is adopted by the Judicial Council.

Photo galleries and videos

This websie uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.