Macejkova Meets Venice Commission Chief Concerning Lack of Judges

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Constitutional Court President Macejkova meets Venice Commission chief Buquicchio (photo by TASR)

Kosice, November 8 (TASR) – The situation at the Slovak Constitutional Court, which has been lacking three judges for a long time, was high on the agenda of talks between Constitutional Court chair Ivetta Macejkova and Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio on Tuesday.

Macejkova and Buquicchio concurred on the need for the number of constitutional judges to be increased quickly.

The Constitutional Court in a press release on Tuesday stated that it’s already expressed its opinion on the issue of the appointment of Constitutional Court judges via two rulings. Both of these are “lawful, effective, executable and binding for all participants in proceedings at the Constitutional Court, including the president”.

Regarding the requirement of ensuring that the Constitutional Court functions properly by appointing new judges, Macejkova finds it important to point to the existing stance of the Venice Commission on the process of appointing judges from June 13, 2014, as its conclusions are also relevant in the current situation. She chiefly pinpointed the conclusion in point three: “In line with the Slovak Constitution, the newly elected Slovak president has no power to reject all candidates that are submitted to him and to ask Parliament to submit a new list”.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska also met the Venice Commission president on Monday. Following the meeting Kiska said that he’ll ask the commission for its legal opinion if Parliament doesn’t propose candidates for judges soon. “I’m interested in eliminating all legal and political doubts and discrepancies that some decisions of the Constitutional Court have brought us,” he stated.

“With regards to the Constitutional Court’s position as an independent judicial authority protecting constitutionality and on the oath sworn by Constitutional Court judges, the Constitutional Court chair will show reserve and will not comment on statements made by the president on Monday (November 7), despite their expressive character,” reads the Constitutional Court’s press release.

At the moment the Constitutional Court isn’t fully staffed, as its 13-member senate still lacks three judges. In 2014, Kiska rejected five out of six candidates greenlighted by Parliament for three judge vacancies. He appointed judge Jana Baricova to the prestigious judicial post, but turned down the remaining five candidates on the grounds that he didn’t find sufficient interest among them in constitutional law, even though the five met the legal requirements.

The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law. Its representatives are visiting Slovakia based on an invitation from Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak.