Experts critical of Saeima's rejection of Supreme Court candidate

The rejection of the former Constitutional Court President Sanita Osipova as a judge of the Supreme Court (AT) has created a constitutional crisis in the country, said Aigars Strupišs, Chair of the Supreme Court, on Latvian Television February 18.

Strupišs said that Thursday's Saeima vote shows that “democracy is not as good as I would like to think” in Latvia.

Commenting on the Saeima debate, Strupišs said that Osipova had been evaluated for her judgments at the Constitutional Court, which is not permitted by Section 83 of the Constitution, which states that the judges are independent and only subordinate to the law. 

“If it is true that the Saeima infringes Article 83 of the Constitution in relation to the judge, it is a constitutional crisis, because the judicial system is not based on political choice, it is based on a professional choice,” said Strupišs.

He expressed concern about the judges who will have to be confirmed in future positions, knowing that “the Saeima will behave like this”. He added: “If it turns against one [judge], there is no guarantee that it will not turn against others.”

An AT Plenary Assembly will be held on Friday, where a resolution will be prepared for the Saeima.

Meanwhile, on February 17 evening, constitutional rights expert Edgars Pastars and former Constitutional Court president Gunārs Kūtris told LTV that perhaps the Saeima should not decide on the future career of once elected judges. Osipova had been approved as a suitable candidate by the Supreme Court itself.

“While the parliament may, in principle, also reject the nominations for judges, the way they do it is described very well. And everything they shouldn't do was done today,” commented Pastars.

Kūtris agreed that Saeima members have the right to judge the candidate: “But here's the question – can they assess the judge's professionalism, can they say that the judge's personal conviction, the opinion is an obstacle to becoming a judge?”

Both experts said that perhaps the order in which the Supreme Court members are elected should be changed, taking the vote away from the Saeima.

 

 

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