A lack of respect for our judiciary

The crisis over the two quarries in Markopoulo, which was shaken by explosions after quarriers continued to operate despite a court ruling ordering them to stop, and the buck-passing going on between regional and local authorities reluctant to take on the responsibility are reminiscent of a deplorable incident in Halkida where a falling road sign killed a passenger in a passing car. All the competent authorities claim to have been unqualified to try to avoid this predictable disaster. And in the case of the quarries, as compared to that in Halkida, there was even a judicial order, which was unfortunately not implemented. Across the entire world, the decisions of the high courts are regarded as sacred. Only in Greece do state services attempt to sidestep existing legal provisions, either by instituting new legal measures or by pleading ignorance. This is reflected in the plans to divert the Acheloos River in western Greece and with the quarries in Markopoulo. The environmental prerequisites that the state itself has established are either bypassed or ignored outright, especially when the Council of State has issued unpopular rulings. The non-implementation of judicial decisions has consequences beyond environmental destruction. In a society where the decisions of high-ranking judges are swept aside, justice loses its influence. Greek citizens do not identify with the wronged German miller who dared to tell the Emperor Frederick: «If I am treated unjustly by your majesty, there are other judges in Berlin I can turn to.» Greek citizens do not believe they are living in a country that respects the rule of law, where they will be treated fairly. No one can have faith in any procedures when they know that judicial decisions are not even respected by the state. The tainted influence of the judiciary cannot be restored merely through a purging of its ranks. The state has to start respecting, and implementing, the judiciary’s decisions.