NEWS

Parliament to help choose judges

Parliament is going to have a say in who is appointed to the country’s top judicial positions, according to a draft law to be submitted to the House. Until now, the top judges have been political appointments but, in a bit to create greater transparency, the government wants to allow Parliament – but not all 300 MPs – to express an opinion as to which justices should occupy the most powerful positions. According to the bill, the process will apply to the heads of the Council of State, the Supreme Court and the Court of Audit as well as the Supreme Court prosecutor, the Court of Audit’s general prosecutor and the general prosecutor of the administrative courts. The new system would see the Cabinet approve six candidates for any position that becomes available. These six judicial officials would then face a special parliamentary committee. The 17-member panel would be made up of the current and former parliamentary speaker, the deputy speakers and representatives of all the parliamentary panels. After questioning the candidates, the committee will then approve three of the six. To do so, at least four-fifths of the panel must give the green light to the candidate. The three names will then be put to the Cabinet again, so that ministers can decide which of the trio will be picked to fill the position. A similar process will be followed when it comes to choosing the vice presidents of these courts. Justice Minister Haris Kastanidis said that another important reform would be included in the bill, namely allowing courts to administer themselves. Under the plans, at courts of first instance and appeal courts, the judges will be called to elect by secret ballot three of their colleagues who will form a panel that would have the task of running the court. Each elected judge would serve for two years and would not have the option of running for a second term.