NEWS

Sotiris Bayias, president of the Prosecutors’ Union of Greece

1. All prosecutors and all judges have (and should have) the right to their own religious, political and other personal or ideological beliefs. However, it is unacceptable that these beliefs should affect the exercise of their duties; in some cases, in fact it could prove extremely dangerous. I would say that this phenomenon – where it exists – is a form of corruption and as such should be dealt with. 2. What I can say with certainty is that the number of cases of corruption is limited; the situation is not generalized. But even that restricted number shows the need for stricter controls, particularly with regard to rooting out corruption. Nevertheless – and this is something I must emphasize – reform should not be carried out in such a manner as to affect the independence of a judicial ruling or the personal dignity of judges. Improved inspections 3. The system of inspection needs to be improved, not only with more inspectors – and the current number is truly inadequate. However, the inspectors should also be given better means and a better general infrastructure with which to work. There might be a need to re-evaluate the spirit or even the content of these reviews, in order to cover all possible parameters. 4. I think the image that is emerging as a result of specific, and indeed unacceptable, cases of corruption is unfair to the justice system as a whole and to the overwhelming majority of those who work within it to the very best of their abilities. The role lawyers play in the process of dispensing justice is a huge question with many elements that touch on their personal relations with judges and prosecutors. I think that in order to resolve the crucial question of the proper functioning of all those involved in a trial, there should, in the immediate future, be a sincere and specific dialogue between representatives of judicial officials and lawyers. The dialogue should be based on the principles of mutual respect, understanding and communication, aimed at the most authoritative and impartial dispensation of justice possible. 5. It is true that there is, at the moment, a great upheaval within the ranks of judicial officials. However, I would not say that the prevailing sentiments reflect a fear of responsibility, or insecurity. The average judicial official feels deeply insulted, as well as angered by the fact that these specific, unacceptable incidents have given the impression that corruption is a generalized phenomenon within the justice system. I would like to believe that the final outcome of this entire situation will not cause judges to become stricter or more insecure, but better judges. Individual privacy 6. There are – as there should be – legal and ethical limits to the methods used by journalists, governed by the right of individuals to privacy and the need to safeguard democratic institutions. On the other hand, there is the drive to reveal atrocious crimes which otherwise might remain in the dark. This is an argument which, when well-founded, does in fact provide cause for debate. So there is an immediate need for a strict delineation, so that officials will be aware of where their authorities lie. This is so that they can intervene without hesitation, but also without risking accusations of trying to thwart press freedoms or even hinder the discovery of crimes. However, it is true that the unbridled invasion of the media into personal lives will lead to a «Big Brother society» and the breakdown of all personal liberties.