Judges invite to apply individual criteria for a financing of the courts in the conditions of crisis
18 April, 2009
Judges are ready to express solidarity with other social groups of the population and to participate in economic crisis overcoming in the country, but demand, that legislators and executive power take into account exceptional circumstances and the principles of courts stated, - this has been underlined on April 17, in the reference to the President, Saeima and the Cabinet of Ministers, accepted at the Conference of Judges of Republic of Latvia.
Dealing with a question on possible reduction of financing of judicial institutions, judges urge to state the financing intended to judicial activity in such volume that availability of a society to courts and the right to fair court do not appear under the threat. In the conditions of an economic crisis it is necessary to develop individual criteria for a financing of courts and it is necessary to provide decisions for continuation of reform of the remuneration guaranteed by the law. Judges suggest to reduce volumes of the executive power that forms the judicial policy, and to eliminate duplication of functions which are seen in activity of the Ministry of Justice and Judicial Administration.
The work of the courts in the conditions of the reduced budget there was a main point at the running Conference of Judges of Republic of Latvia. This was underlined in the basic reports also of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics, and Minister of Justice Mareks Seglins.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics has underlined that for judges, also as for all inhabitants of Latvia, the most topical question at present is the uncertainty of the future, formed under the influence of an economic crisis. The chairman has expressed confidence that judges and workers of courts understand the problems created in a result of an economic situation in the country and will carry out the official duties, providing objective and fair justice, but has specified two essential aspects of a problem.
First, the quantity of the cases received in courts continues to increase, they become more difficult, accumulation of cases increase and terms of their reviewing also increase. At reduction of a financing of the courts it becomes even more impossible to provide the rights of individuals to reviewing of cases in reasonable terms, and in this connection it is possible to expect increase in quantity of complaints from the population of Latvia in the European Court of Human Rights in which indemnification from the state will be requested.
Secondly, dealing with a question on reduction of wages of employees in state bodies, it is necessary to observe a principle of justice. I.Bickovics has underlined that relating to conclusions about high wages in the government to judges and employees of the court is unreasonable, because having calculated frozen salaries, reduction already executed on 15 % and still demanded reduction by 20 %, wages in general have decreased for 41 %. “Few working in government field are in a similar situation”, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has underlined.
Also Minister of Justice Mareks Seglins has specified that wages of judges haven’t been raised since year 2006. The minister has underlined that closing of courts is inadmissible, especially in regions, but has reminded of the things, which are not demanding monetary investments, for example, the kind attitude to each visitor of the court.
The desire to understand and solve a problem of courts has sounded also in speeches of visitors of the Conference.
The President of the State Valdis Zatlers has specified heavy, but full of honour responsibility of judges in preservation of trust of a society to courts and in a difficult situation for the state, because “the trust to judicial power is a trust to the state in general”. The President had expressed hope that in economic problems which touches all branches, quality of judicial work will not decrease and fair justice will be carried out. V. Zatlers had invited judges to a unification and understanding in the general situation, and had invited the President of Ministers and the Minister of Justice to making of delibrative decisions concerning judicial system, because it is equally important both state security, and independence of judicial power. Economic balance is impossible without legitimacy and legal balance, the President has specified.
In his turn, the President of Ministers Valdis Dombrovskis informed that the state executive power has reduced the wages by 20 % and invited other two powers – decision-making and judicial powers for solidary actions. The Prime Minister has promised that judges will be one of the first to whom the compensation guaranteed by the law will be restored after crisis.
Iveta Andzane, the Chair of Bauska District Court and the Chair of the Association of Judges, has suggested making some possible decisions in order to economize the finances of courts. For example, days-off at own expense simultaneously in all courts of Latvia; writing of the full text of judgements, only when participants of process wish to appeal them. It would be possible to stop to copy materials for participants of process free of charge and sending registered mail. It is not necessary to carry the writing and economic goods in all courts of Latvia from Riga, if it is possible to buy them on a place much more cheaply, etc.
The invitation to put forward representatives of judges for negotiations about changes of the budget of courts has not received support. Judges were persuaded by counterarguments of the senator of the Supreme Court Janis Neimanis that it would mean involving of judges in a politics as budget formation is a political decision, so, it would be the contradiction to principles of independence. It would be, of course, favourable for executive power, because then it would be possible to fall the responsibility for inevitably unpopular decisions down on judges. Therefore judges should stand apart from such activities.
Information prepared by
Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 7020396, 28652211