Various opinions expressed in the conference of judges on the necessity to establish an ethics commission
2 November, 2007
Both Minister of Justice Gaidis Bērziņš and Chairman of the Constitutional Court Gunārs Kūtris addressing the extraordinary conference of judges on November 2, stressed the necessity to establish a judges’ ethics commission without waiting for adoption of the new Law on Judiciary.
Kūtris considers that the ethics commission has to be the institution a condemnation expressed by which in a case of violation of ethical nature would make the guilty judge understand that he has to leave the position. The Chairman of the Constitutional Court said that he is worried by the situation when judges who wish to work in a “pure” court fear to express their opinion. The ethics commission would serve as their “mechanism of protection”. If a message is expressed through the ethics commission that colleagues do not wish to work together with dishonest judges, it would enhance the public’s trust in courts and the belief that courts can undergo self-purification.
However, the views expressed by the judges varied. Chairman of the Department of Civil Cases of the Senate Valerjans Jonikāns stressed that there is no need for an ethics commission as an individual either possesses ethics and morality or not, and the question is about responsibility of everyone before consciousness and the God. Senator Roberts Guntis Namatēvs also thinks that following ethical standards depends on individuality therefore he suggested to introduce a course of lectures for judges on development of individuality. Chairman of the Chamber of Criminal Cases Ivars Bičkovičs called the judges to be wise and to think about what they do, where they do and what it looks like from aside. However, he considers that the model of the ethics commission is vague and is not worked out fully.
In the extraordinary conference of judges on November 2, 2007, 393 out of 520 Latvian judges took part. The conference was convened to discuss the existing situation after publishing the phone calls which indicate to possible violations of the law and ethics allowed by judges. The agenda of the conference and the draft resolution was worked out by a work group of judges of the courts of all levels which was led by the senator of the Department of Administrative Cases of the Supreme Court Veronika Krūmiņa. The conference adopted the resolution which disapproves of actions of judges what creates distrust to judiciary, and urges the legislative and executive powers to ensure without delay adoption of standard regulation of the Commission of Judges’ Ethics.
Information prepared by Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
Author: Rasma Zvejniece, Manager of the Division of Communications of the Supreme Court
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