By Stefanos Evripidou
THE QUALITY and speed of justice are hugely important factors in the smooth functioning of the country, while acute delays in administering justice could jeopardise the entire system, said members of the Supreme Court on Friday.
The comments were made during a swearing-in ceremony of the new President and new member of the Supreme Court at the Presidential Palace.
With the retirement of DemetrisHadjijambis, President Nicos Anastasiades appointed Myronas Nicolatos to replace him as Supreme Court President and Tefkros Economou as a new member of the country’s highest court.
Speaking at the ceremony, Anastasiades said the government was continuing reforms to ensure justice was served quicker and more effectively.
He referred to the establishment of an administrative court to help expedite cases and relieve the Supreme Court of its huge workload, expressing hope the relevant bill pending before parliament will be adopted without further delay.
Anastasiades noted that tenders have already been invited to implement the Justice Ministry’s ‘e-justice’ proposal, a “truly innovative reform which will help tackle bureaucracy and release human resources to be used elsewhere”.
Despite the freeze on recruitment in the public sector, the government has approved a number of positions for judges and support staff, said the president, adding: “Justice cannot wait.”
In response, the new Supreme Court President vowed to do the utmost to improve and speed up the justice system.
The quality and speed of justice are “factors of huge importance for the smooth functioning of the rule of law, democracy and the national economy”, said Nicolatos.
“These factors depend on the quality of judges, their number, the staffing of courts, the modernisation of judicial procedure, and the provisions afforded judges to carry out their work,” he added.
Nicolatos warned Anastasiades that he will not hesitate to contact the head of the state, the executive and legislature to provide all that is necessary to the judiciary for the smooth and effective execution of its duties, which is “the proper and expeditious administration of justice for all according to the law”.
The new judicial chief said his actions will be guided by the rule of law and the principle that everyone is equal before the law.
The only way the judiciary can do its job is to maintain its high level of independence, particularly today when the country faces severe economic problems, which in turn create serious constitutional and legal problems, he said.
New Supreme Court member, Judge Tefkros Economou, spoke of the “need to address the delays, which particularly in civil jurisdictions, have become a very acute problem and jeopardise the entire justice system”.
Reforms are needed first of all, “to change our widespread and beloved mentalit yof procrastination”, said Economou, adding: “In these difficult times, the principle of legality takes on particular importance, standing in direct opposition to populism.”