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‘Time for rule of law to come first’

Nicosia court

It is time to prove that public interest and the rule of law come first for the government, House legal affairs committee chair Nicos Tornaritis said on Wednesday as the plenum will today vote on the much-awaited justice reform bills.

A minimum of 38 votes are needed for the reforms to pass.

The bills set out to establish a new court of appeals, a second instance and an appellate body – consisting of the supreme constitutional court, and the new supreme court.

“After many years of discussions on positions, amendments and changes, today marks the beginning of the countdown for the amendment of the constitution and the reform of our justice system,” Tornaritis said.

The committee chair said that during the session, MPs discussed the bills with Justice Minister Stephie Dracou, who took party suggestions for amendments and heard their queries.

“Answers were given. Now the public, society, expects us to go beyond any extra-institutional centres – if and when they exist – and to serve our duty,” he said.

“It is time for us to prove that we place public interest and the rule of law first”.

Diko MP Panikos Leonidou said that his party has submitted a series of proposals outside of the reform bills that its members consider very important for comprehensive judicial reform.

“We believe that the proposed reforms will not solve all of the problems of the judiciary,” he said on Monday. “On the contrary, there are still several issues we have the opportunity to improve through the debate we have started”.

Diko has put forth four proposals, including the better functioning of the courts of first instance, the establishment of a small claims court, the establishment and strengthening of the ombudsman, online hearings and ad hoc appointments of retired judges for certain types of cases.

Leonidou said that the time has come to extend the jurisdiction of the administrative court, and that a proposal was submitted for discussion on the non-compliance of administrative bodies with administrative decisions.

Regarding Diko’s proposals, Tornaritis said the justice minister is expected to respond in writing within the day.

“I am optimistic that together, we will achieve the goal shared by many in the past few years,” he said.

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