Attorney-general Costas Clerides has been left out of discussions about the vital reform of the justice system after what appears to be a political decision by President Nicos Anastasiades, it emerged on Tuesday.
“Our key disagreement is that the supreme court set up a reform committee about issues concerning courts and judges in which it included district judges and the justice ministry and lawyers and the finance ministry but it did not include the attorney-general or his representative,” Clerides told the Cyprus News Agency.
Nor was he briefed about the progress of these issues, he added.
“These are not simply government policy matters, but fundamental state and constitutional matters and the state’s Legal Service cannot be left outside,” Clerides said.
Earlier, government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told state radio that the decision to exclude the AG had been taken by the president. He added however, that Clerides’ views would be taken into consideration.
Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou said later the government had no problem briefing the AG about the reforms and the bills, which were being prepared.
The reforms, which were included in Anastasiades’ 2013 election programme, have been under discussion for two years or so.
In a statement on Tuesday, the presidency sought to deflect criticism about the delays, saying the reforms would cost over €120m, which the state could not afford in the past six years because of the economic crisis.
The statement did not address the matter of the AG’s exclusion.
It stresses that the proposals had not been prompted by the recent allegations about supreme court judges and their relations with a particular law firm and that the government could not get involved in that and violate the separation of powers.
“Therefore, he (the president) will not act in violation of the provisions of the constitution so that he can be liked,” the statement said.
It went on to add that the first study on the reform had been submitted by the supreme court on June 24, 2016 and it was decided to also seek advice from foreign experts.
Irish experts were tasked in February 2017 to carry out a comprehensive study, which they finished in April 2018.