President Vetoes Amendment to Act on Courts

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President Andrej Kiska (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, July 6 (TASR) – Slovak President Andrej Kiska has vetoed an amendment to the Act on Courts that he views as significantly limiting public supervision over court decisions, Martin Liptak of the President’s Office told TASR on Friday.

Kiska returned the amendment to Parliament, recommending that it shouldn’t adopt the law as a whole, as its content contradicts the principles of the rule of law.

The amendment extends the range of exceptions for making court rulings available. This applies to, for example, a court’s consent to the provision of data that are subject to telecommunications secrecy, consent for wiretapping etc. According to Kiska, this prevents public supervision over extremely sensitive court decisions, a move that would have a significant effect on several fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals.

“The elimination of such public supervision must always be justified by objective and provable facts,” stressed the president. Kiska stated that neither the Government, nor Parliament have defended the existence of extraordinary circumstances or security threats motivating them to approve the amendment. He also stressed that the amendment hasn’t undergone interdepartmental review, either.

The president claims that more than six years of experience with applying free access to information indicates no security threats in the case of the court decisions affected. Rather the opposite is the case – the law contributes towards the transparency and predictability of court rulings and their effective supervision, said Kiska, who views the amendment as inappropriate interference in the meaning and core of the fundamental right to information protected by the Slovak Constitution.

Parliament approved the amendment with 99 votes on June 20. It was hastily prepared by the Justice Ministry. Justice Minister Gabor Gal (Most-Hid) defended the move by pointing to what he called the occurrence of extraordinary circumstances and a threat to the country’s security.