Parliament Amends Constitution in Order to Scrap Meciar Amnesties

Parliament Amends Constitution in Order to Scrap Meciar Amnesties

Bratislava, March 30 (TASR) – Parliament will receive powers to revoke presidential pardons and amnesties if they are in discrepancy with the principles of the democratic rule of law, as the House on Thursday approved a coalition-sponsored amendment aimed at scrapping the amnesties of Vladimir Meciar with 124 votes.

Under the amendment to the Constitution, any revocation of amnesties or pardons must be evaluated within 60 days by the Constitutional Court, which will be tasked with either confirming or rejecting the parliamentary decision. If the court fails to reach a verdict within the set deadline, the House’s decision will stand.

The amendment is slated to be forwarded to President Andrej Kiska, who has 15 days to sign it into law or exercise a veto. Once it’s published in the Collection of Laws, at least 30 lawmakers must submit a motion to annul Meciar’s amnesties, which must be passed with at least 90 votes. Furthermore, Parliament also decided via an amending proposal by the Opposition that actions that are subject to amnesties won’t come under the statute of limitations.

All present coalition MPs except Anton Hrnko of the Slovak National Party (SNS) voted for the bill along with all lawmakers of the Opposition OLaNO-NOVA, We Are Family and the majority of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Independents.

Initially, the Opposition conditioned its consent on five demands, but the coalition agreed only to do away with the statute of limitations risk and to identify who should represent Parliament before the Constitutional Court.

Meciar’s amnesties relate to the 1995 kidnapping of then president Michal Kovac’s son Michal Kovac Jr. and the murder in 1996 of Robert Remias, who served as a contact for a key witness of the abduction. The amnesties issued by Meciar as acting president in 1998 also concern a thwarted referendum of 1997.

In December 1998 following a general election, then new prime minister and acting president Mikulas Dzurinda signed a decree to omit a few clauses of the Meciar amnesties in order to allow an investigation into the thwarted referendum and kidnapping. In February 1999, however, the Constitutional Court ruled that no amnesty can be scrapped or amended.