Vējonis hands back judicial reform law, asks for more thought

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Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis on November 10 declined to sign legal reforms approved by Saeima, sending it back to the parliament instead for further consideration.

It is the latest in a series of clashes between the president and the parliament, this time with Vējonis expressing unease about changes that would allow senior legal officials to stay in their posts beyond the currently mandated maximum of two consecutive terms (a restriction which incidentally also applies to the presidency).

"The President pointed out that the decision adopted by the Saeima to lift the restriction on the chairman of the district (city) court and the chairman of the regional court to occupy their posts for more than two consecutive terms is not aimed at the development of the judicial system," the presidential press service said.

"Strong democratic systems are characterized by the change of officials after a certain period, so as to enable other professionals to take on leadership as well... a long-term presence in one position can create the risk of stagnation," Vējonis said.

The President said he believes that rotation in the leading positions in the judiciary would promote professional development "at all levels", allowing as many judges as possible to acquire new professional and managerial skills, and would encourage judges to become more active in addressing issues of general interest to the consolidation of the rule of law.

"The obligation to select a certain position for another person after a reasonable time, even though the previous leader has performed his duties well and in good faith, promotes the development of any institution," the President said.

In returning the law Vejonis called on the Saeima to "systematically evaluate" in all areas the effects which unrestricted appointments might have.

It is the second time Vējonis has asked Saeima to look at these specific legal amendments, though ultimately the will of Saeima trumps that of the President.  

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