Cyprus Mail

MPs reprimanded as two more laws declared unconstitutional

Former attorney-general Costas Clerides

The supreme court on Wednesday struck down two more laws which had been referred by President Nicos Anastasiades on constitutional grounds after they were passed by the House of Representatives last April.

In total, 15 out of 16 laws referred by Anastasiades have now been found to be unconstitutional.

The first law banned the state from licensing new television channels if “the viability of existing licensed television organisations was compromised”.

Such a provision, the Supreme Court ruled, would contravene article 49 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union, which establishes the right to free movement across the EU, as well as the right “to set up and manage undertakings”.

The second law referred by Anastasiades related to the state broadcaster (CyBC), on which the supreme court ruled that upholding it would constitute preferential treatment.

“The CyBC law cannot stand on its own, since such an instance would violate article 28 of the constitution,” the court said.

“Its provisions would apply only to the CyBC, and not the rest of the audio-visual media providers.”

Among dozens of other laws and amendments passed by parliament in its final session before last year’s legislative elections, the unconstitutional legislation reflects the hasty manner in which parliament sought to close as many of its outstanding items in a single session.

With rulings on all 16 of Anastasiades’ referrals finally out, the attorney-general, Costas Clerides, blasted MPs for wasting the Legal Service’s time.

In a statement, he said that “out of 16 laws, the supreme court found that 15 contained unconstitutional clauses and struck them down”.

“This points to, or corroborates, a very serious institutional issue, which relates to the process of submitting legislative proposals, which are voted into law without adequate legal review, as well as similarly unchecked legislative amendments, which cause constitutional issues on reviewed bills,” Clerides said.

The Legal Service reviews every government bill before releasing it to parliament for discussion and voting, but legislative proposals from parliament are not its remit, and the House doesn’t have a legal department.

“In light of this, parliament must seriously address this issue, which has caused unnecessary legal battles, excessive expenditure and uncertainty toward laws.”

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