By Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Vetting on Holiday – State of Play

The vetting institutions Independent Qualification Commission (KPK), Special Appeals Chamber (KPA), and Public Commissioner will be on holiday until September 3. This means that until that date no new magistrates will be vetted. The KPK has not yet planned any hearings after its return, whereas the KPA has already scheduled several appeal hearings.

So far, the KPK has processed the dossiers of 60 magistrates, leading to 27 confirmations, 4 dismissals, 8 suspended cases, and 4 cases that were interrupted. The suspensions and interruptions are the result of magistrates resigning from the post before the vetting has been completed. Of the cases treated by the KPK, 45% were confirmed, while 35% were dismissed.

It is unclear whether these numbers are in the range of expectations of the government or the international community. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, International Monitoring Operation director Genoveva Ruiz Calavera had stated she was “convinced that many judges and prosecutors will pass the vetting without difficulty.”

During this first phase, most priority candidates for the High Prosecutorial Council (KLP), High Judicial Council (KLGj), Justice Appointments Council (KED), and High Inspectorate of Justice (ILD) were vetted.

As a result, the High Court already published a call for additional candidates for the KLGj, as not enough candidates passed the vetting.

Meanwhile, the successful installation of the KLP depends on whether two prosecutors from the Prosecution at the Court of Serious Crimes may be counted as prosecutors from the Special Prosecution (SPAK), which has not been installed because the KLP has been installed. It is unclear if and how this Catch-22 situation will be resolved.

Furthermore, the KED has been rendered dysfunctional, as several of its members failed to pass the vetting. This will have serious consequences for the installation of a new Constitution Court, candidates for which will be vetted most likely in the autumn.

At the same time, the Public Commissioner is expected to file several appeals at the recommendation of the International Monitoring Mission (ONM), which would further jeopardize candidates for the KLP and ILD, and extend the process of installing these new justice institutions even further.

The vetting numbers so far also suggest an interesting asymmetry as regards the gender of those magistrates confirmed and dismissed. Whereas men are dismissed and confirmed in almost equal proportions, skewing toward dismissal, women stand overall a very high chance of being confirmed. As most dismissals are based on asset evaluation (and therefore signs of corruption), does this mean that women are overall less corrupt than men? Or has it to do with the fact that the large majority of KPK commissioners are women, which would introduce – even subconsciously – a gender bias?