The supreme court said Friday it opposed judicial reforms in their current form, suggesting they would undermine the rule of law and threaten the independence of the justice system.
Supreme court judges met with Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis on Friday, as part of the state’s effort to push through reforms to the justice system to make it more efficient and effective.
Following the meeting, Supreme Court president Persefoni Panayi issued a statement highlighting the importance of the court’s role in any reform effort and expressing concerns over the proposals.
Reforming the justice system remains the court’s first priority, the statement said, however, the current proposals raised concerns.
The proposed operation of a supreme court “with explicit division of jurisdiction” as supreme third-level court and supreme constitutional court, leads to the creation of a supreme court, however, consisting of judges with a different explicit division of jurisdiction, devoid of its key power of self-regulation.
According to the supreme court, this structure involves the risk of interference in the independence of the justice system and undermining the principle of rule of law.
“In addition, the expected new structure … of the supreme judiciary, constitutes a hybrid model that is not met anywhere in common law, neither in any other modern justice system,” the statement said.
It also causes a chain reaction, causing confusion as regards the operation of the supreme judiciary and the general administration of the courts.
“The reform of our country’s justice system is an urgent need in a bid to tackle the major problem of delays observed in the dispensation of justice.”
But creating an effective justice system that is able to meet the needs of the 21st century entails rational arrangements that are constitutionally permissible and in line with the recommendations of the European Commission, Panayi said.
The court president said they were processing their own proposals on the matter that will be submitted as soon as possible.
Cyprus ranks among the slowest countries in the world in terms of delivering swift justice. While the EU average required to complete a case is eight months, Cyprus needs more than 2,500 days.
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