When preparing the report of the European Commission about Latvia, the Directorate-General of the Commission considered it necessary to hear the opinion of the Council for the Judiciary on aspects concerning independence of judiciary.  

On 27 November, Ines Hartwig, the representative of the European Commission Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers, met Inara Garda, the deputy Chair of the Council for the Judiciary, and Sandra Lapina, the Head of the Administration of the Supreme Court, to listen to the opinion on implemented initiatives and planned measures to ensure independence of judiciary and strengthen the role of the Council for the Judiciary. The European Commission was curious to know whether the draft law of amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” envisaging expansion of authority of the Council for the Judiciary, which is transferred to the committees of the Saeima (Parliament), is sufficient for actual independence of judiciary, which is considered by the Council of Europe to be an important condition.  

Inara Garda, the deputy Chair of the Council for the Judiciary, acknowledged that the Council has supported amendments to the law “On Judicial Power”, which envisage to transfer all issues related to promotion of judges to the Council for the Judiciary, stipulating that the Saeima would decide on a judge only once – when approving him or her to the office of a judge. The further promotion would be at discretion of the Council for the Judiciary, of course, grounding on statements provided by the Judicial Qualification Committee. The Council for the Judiciary also accepted amendments, which envisage assigning to the Council for the Judiciary of determinant role in appointment and removal of Chairs of district (city) courts and regional courts.  

During the meeting, the necessity to increase capacity of the Council for the Judiciary, increasing number of employees and budget of the Council, was also discussed.

The attention was also turned to disproportionately low wages of court employees, observing their work load and skills and qualification necessary to discharge job duties.

Court reform on development of concept of court houses being implemented in Latvia was mentioned as future issue.    

Meeting with the representative of the European Commission Directorate-General was organised within European Semester visit. Representation of the European Commission in Riga indicates that it is a very important visit, as results thereof will be used to assess Latvian progress in implementation of the Country-specific Recommendations 2015 given by the Council of the European Union, to prepare report of the European Commission on Latvia and to elaborate Country-specific Recommendations 2015.

 

Information prepared by

Division of Communication of the Supreme Court

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