A crisis in our justice system

A crisis in our justice system

Greek society is plagued by a general sense of injustice and this malaise is the cause of many ills. Our democracy provides us with freedoms that most people on the planet can only envy, but the deep-rooted belief that we are not all equals, that justice serves the mighty and those who have access to them, confines us to juvenile political behavior and leads us to bankruptcy: When many feel that they are being cheated, they try to get as much as they can for themselves and will follow any politician who panders to this need, while no one cares about the cost to the state nor the division of the body politic. Even so, despite knowing about our justice system’s weaknesses, the latest revelations are cause for surprise and alarm.

Unwittingly, by revealing the depth of the problem, the government has benefited the country. The childish effort to exploit the Novartis investigation to taint political rivals, and the way that senior members of the judiciary appear to have colluded in this, leaves no more room for illusions or tolerance: Something is rotten in our justice system and it needs to be cleaned out.

It is fortunate that those weaving the web were themselves caught in it just before the elections. This makes it likely that they will not be able to tear their way out, as the mighty often do; they will not be able to remain in the shadows but, exposed, will have to answer for their deeds. It is imperative that the Novartis issue be investigated in depth, along with other cases that raise suspicions of judicial officials possibly assisting politicians, as in the relentless pursuit of Andreas Georgiou, the former head of the statistics agency falsely accused of doctoring figures, the effort to wipe out the Athens Review of Books, the special treatment accorded some convicts (particularly one serial killer terrorist), and others. The SYRIZA government carries a heavy burden of responsibility for the cloud of suspicion over the judiciary.

The next government will have to renounce the old methods of exercising power, which reached their apogee in the past few years. It must also reinforce the judiciary. Aside from the responsibility of politicians, though, this is the duty of judges and prosecutors. They are human and it is neither possible nor desirable for all of them to agree on everything, as they will have different opinions and ideologies. One thing should unite them, though – their oath to serve the common interest, to protect all citizens.

We are in 2019. The justice system must be modernized, it must contribute to the country’s development, it must play the leading role that the Constitution bestows upon it. It must fulfill the hopes of citizens. Circumstances, for once, favor this.

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