9 April, 2008
The visiting meeting of the sub-commission of the Judicial Commission of the Saeima (Parliament) was held on April 8 in the Supreme Court. The Head of the Judicial Commission Vineta Muizniece, the Head of the sub-commission Solvita Aboltina, other members of the commission and the Minister of Justice Gaidis Berzins examined the critical situation regarding the premises in the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Andris Gulans and the Head of the Administration Anita Kehre highlighted the problem. At the end of 2007, there were 1604 pending cases what is the biggest ever remainder of cases in the history of the Supreme Court. To speed up reviewing of the cases, it is necessary to increase the number of judges of the Supreme Court. However, new judges cannot be invited as the court lacks premises. The number of the Supreme Court judges determined by the Saeima is 53, but in 2008 there are only 47. It is not a problem of the Supreme Court only as when the state does not ensure proper conditions for reviewing cases in the Supreme Court in due terms, the trials are postponed to more and more longer period, and people find grounds to file complaints with the European Court of Human Rights. Thus, the state may have to pay more assets in compensations when such cases are lost.
The conception of premises of the Supreme Court was worked out already in 2005. It stipulates to separate the zone of visitors and court rooms from the offices of judges, to make more efficient the regime of passes by installing video watch and ensuring complete separation of the Supreme Court premises from the rest of the building, as well as to improve the working environment and security in the premises of the Supreme Court. However, it is impossible to improve the surroundings in the unsuitable premises where the employees of the Supreme Court work – up to 10 people in one room, and it is not possible to ensure complete separation of the premises due to the location of the premises. On May 30, 2007, a three-sided agreement was concluded among the State Chancery, the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court on the division of premises after the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brivibas Boulevard 36 are vacated. Under the agreement, the Supreme Court will be leased additional premises with the total area of 850 square meters. The Ministry of Justice has provided information that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will vacate the premises till August 1, 2008, and before the Ministry of Justice moves in, the premises will be renovated. The Supreme Court asks to speed up this process by settling the issue on premises gradually.
In a tour round the premises of the Supreme Court the parliamentarians learned the actual situation. It was a big surprise to see the unsuitable conditions in which the archives of the Supreme Court are kept in the basement of the Riga Regional Court, it does not comply even with the minimum requirements for maintenance of archives. The Chamber of Criminal Cases of the Supreme Court use three court rooms and deliberation rooms in the Riga Regional Court, and the conditions of these premises are disastrous, as well, as no repairs have been done in them. The Minister of Justice acknowledged that it is necessary to have a clear vision regarding the future of premises of the Riga Regional Court.
No specific agreement or decision was adopted in the meeting of the sub-commission of the Judicial Commission of the Saeima, however, the parliamentarians confirmed their understanding of the serious problem and promised support to the Supreme Court in settling it.
Information prepared by
Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 7020396, 28652211