Tight checks lined up for judges

Inspections on judges are set to become much stricter, Justice Minister Anastassis Papaligouras said yesterday, while admitting that checks so far had been inadequate and had allowed to corruption to blossom. Unveiling a draft law, Papaligouras said that the new inspection system would be tougher on judges and more thorough. He said the existing system was «insufficient and perfunctory» and had «encouraged cases of corruption within the justice system.» The minister said that the system has been in place since 1988 and has suffered from a lack of personnel, allowing the work of some judges, such as high-ranking justices on the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, to go unchecked for years. Papaligouras was especially critical of the practice which allows judges themselves to pick the rulings that inspectors scrutinize. Under the prospective law, 10 inspectors rather than six will check on judges in criminal courts, while five inspectors will keep an eye on rulings by administrative courts. Another 15 assistant inspectors will help with the process – two more than are currently employed. All these positions will be made permanent to ensure the inspectors are totally dedicated to their work, Papaligouras said. The plenary session of the Supreme Court will elect its judges to fill two-thirds of the positions at the inspectorate and the remaining third will be filled by judges whose names are to be drawn in a lottery. The minister said that new judges would be hired to replace those taking up new duties. Inspectors will also be instructed – for the first time – to consult with the head of the local bar association when assessing the work of a judge.