8 October, 2008
The government has not taken into account the categorical objections of the Supreme Court against the amendments to the law “On Judicial Power” which stipulate suspension of the reform of remuneration for the work of judges, and the principal salaries for judges in 2009 are left unchanged in comparison with this year. The amendments which were approved by the government yesterday would come into effect if they are accepted by the Saeima (Parliament). The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Ivars Bickovics hopes that the Saeima will take into account the objections of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court notes that the schedule of salary increase for judges is included in the law, and in case it is not followed, it would not only violate the principle of judicial confidence, but it would also affect considerably the principle of independence of the judiciary and judges which is enclosed in Article 83 of the Satversme (Constitution) of the Republic of Latvia. The principle of independence of the judiciary and judges does not allow a situation when representatives of the judicial power have to fight for financial assets necessary to ensure the court functions stipulated in the law. Such situation jeopardizes the principle of judicial independence what may cause, for example, increase of the corruption risks, labour turnover, the professionals leaving the office. This, in its turn may threaten the right of every person to independent and fair trial stated in the Satversme and the international documents, and may as well give rise to doubts regarding the impartiality of court judgments.
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court objecting to the worked out amendments to the law drew the government’s attention to the fact that adoption of such amendments may be interpreted as interference in the court activities. Constitutional courts of other countries have more than once evaluated the decrease of the court budget and the changes to the procedure of calculation of the judges’ salaries, among them the freezing of salaries what in the essence means decrease of salaries, and in their rulings they have acknowledged that taking into account the principle of separation of power, it does not comply with the principle of judicial independence stipulated in the constitutions and international documents.
The Supreme Court will send its objections to the parliamentarians who will have to pass the final decision regarding the amendments to the law.
Information prepared by
Head of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court Rasma Zvejniece
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: 7020396, 28652211