Danko: President Can Select Judges But Not Assess Professional Qualities

Parliamentary Chairman Andrej Danko (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, November 7 (TASR) – The Slovak Parliament will provide the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe with full cooperation in resolving the issue concerning the appointment of Slovak Constitutional Court judges, stated Parliamentary Chairman Andrej Danko after meeting Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio in Bratislava on Monday.

The meeting focused in particular on the situation that emerged when Slovak President Andrej Kiska refused to appoint constitutional judges from among candidates proposed by Parliament earlier this year, claiming that certain candidates didn’t meet the requirements for the post. At the moment the Constitutional Court isn’t fully staffed, as its 13-member senate still lacks three judges.

At the meeting Danko argued that the Slovak parliament is an institution that has the right to evaluate and examine the conditions and the professional qualities of candidates. The president has the power to choose from among the candidates nominated by parliament. “However, this right doesn’t mean that the President’s Office should re-evaluate the suitability or unsuitability of a candidate and should question the selection criteria and qualification requirements,” said Danko.

The parliamentary chairman stated that the Slovak Parliament has provided representatives of the Venice Commission with comprehensive information about how the Slovak Constitution relates to this matter. Danko also pointed to the fact that repeated elections for constitutional judges that took place in the past were held without any problems. “This [latest] election was carried out according to the same criteria and in line with current legislation,” he said.

Danko expressed his belief that if the constitutional mechanism fails, the Venice Commission’s stance could contribute towards clarifying discrepancies regarding this issue. “The Constitutional Court is taking action on this matter,” he said, referring to the fact that the court is currently deciding on complaints filed by rejected candidates.

The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law. Its primary task is to assist and advise individual countries on constitutional matters in order to improve the functioning of democratic institutions and the protection of human rights.