From: Exit News
Venice Commission Criticizes Justice Reform Vetting Procedures

The Venice Commission has directly criticized a number of procedures followed throughout the vetting process that may have caused such significant issues that the Commission  recommends certain magistrates that have been dismissed should undergo vetting again.

In a draft opinion on the appointment of members of the Constitutional Court released at the request of the Socialist majority, it is implied that certain elements of the vetting process, like demanding excessively old receipts and documentations of expenses beyond the provisions of fiscal legislation, have been implemented unreasonably.

The selective implementation of these procedures according to political interests, the draft opinion warns, may create space for political manipulation of the vetting process.

While the reform of the judiciary and the vetting procedure remain a priority and have to be brought to a good end it should be evaluated if the rules as applied (e.g. requiring the justification for money earned by the person concerned and all his or her family members for a period of time much longer than any tax laws require documents to be conserved) lead to good solutions or do not give too much room for political manipulation.

The Commission also pointed out that “some persons did not pass the vetting because their spouse could not explain some revenue earned long before they married,” and condemned the “overly rigid application of procedural deadlines,” noting that ”documentation has to be provided strictly within a deadline of two weeks, which is sometimes not possible, especially when certified documents have to be obtained from abroad. No extension of such procedural deadlines seems to be given, even upon justification.” Consequently, the Commission recommends that, “in reasonable cases, too rigid and unrealistic time limits for providing
documentation should be re-opened.”

An additional, relevant, recommendation was for the vetting of non-judicial candidates to be handled by “the Independent Qualification Commission and the Special Appeal College instead of the Justice Appointments Council, as is the case now.” This is recommended “[in] order to ensure the same standards of vetting for call candidates for membership in the Constitutional Court.”

The Commission has further advised the “[re-evaluation of] the current modality of vetting, including the scope of the vetting process (in order to accelerate the procedure of vetting) and the application of procedural rules such as deadlines in a less rigid manner.”

Finally, the Venice Commission advised that the “vetting of judges and prosecutors should be accelerated by the Independent Qualification Commission and the Special Appeal College.”