One of the shortest answers of the Government to the questions from the European Commission Questionnaire pertains to the judiciary reform. After several years of discussions, several thousand pages dedicated to interpreting, challenging and justification, numerous round tables and protests, and several hundred proceedings initiated, all the answers fit on one page.
In short, it was explained that the reassessment of the general appointment is planned (both in the case of judges who were not appointed, as well as those who were appointed), that the reassessment should be carried out by the permanent members of the High Judicial Council (VSS) and the State Council of Prosecutors (DVT), and that this procedure will be in accordance with the highest standards and criteria of the Venetian Commission and the best practice of the European Union, and that the criteria for appointment will once again be submitted to European institutions for review.
However, the core of the answer reveals the goals (not of the reform itself, but of the post-reform measures). The goal of the planned steps, according to the Government, among other things, is to remove any doubt as to the behavior of VSS and DVT in the process of general appointment.
So, the goal is not to correct the mistakes, but to justify the perpetrators. The “reassessment” starts from the standpoint that all doubts are groundless and should be eliminated at any cost. The possibility that the “reassessment” could reveal that those doubts were justified is not even considered.
Who was entrusted with this pioneering task? Permanent members of the bodies who will not be replaced, regardless of the fact that they were the ones most responsible for the reform.
The answer to the question who is, or will be, responsible for the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the steps that will follow, was that VSS and DVT drafted the Action plan, that the jurisdiction for implementing this plan is shared between these bodies and the Ministry of Justice, and that the coordination of activities and timing will be assigned to the Ministry of Justice. Monitoring is also shared, however not only between these bodies, but, generously, albeit without authorization, with the representatives of the European Commission and the Council of Europe.
Not a word about admitting mistakes, about oversights and responsibility for what was done poorly. Not a word about the fact that the law abolishes one right guaranteed by the Constitution or about the consequences of inconsistencies so far. Finally, not a word on the procedural format and legal basis for the phantom “reassessment”, which can turn into a new form of violation of the Constitution and the law.
It is characteristic that the first sentence of the answer starts with the words: “As to the shortcomings that have been pointed out…” The use of the passive voice combined with the faceless “pointer” leaves open the question as to whether pointing out these shortcomings was justified, and even whether they existed at all. The whole text is filled with false contrition, lack of understanding of the problem and a readiness to keep rushing. False contrition, as it has been noted a long time ago, actually reveals pride: hiding behind someone else’s authority out of fear of being criticized. Nothing is being said about our awareness of the shortcomings, about our acknowledgement that they exist, that we have discovered them ourselves, that we have decided to correct them even without any external pressure. On the contrary, it is clear from the explanation of the goals that the entire process should serve to rehabilitate the perpetrators, despite the fact that, after more than one year, everything will have to be restarted practically from the beginning.
In addition to individual injustices, the worse consequence of the current, and, as it seems, also the future direction of the reform is the spreading of a climate of insecurity and dependence. Appointed judges and prosecutors have been sent a clear message that, even a year after their appointment, they cannot trust their position to be safe. The citizens have been sent the message that the judiciary has no authority, that the executive power is still deciding its fate and that producing insecurity will remain a useful means for interfering with its work.
Whoever has glanced at the Sveti Sava Academy can make a comparison. As much as education has been overshadowed by the Church and kitsch, the judiciary reform has been overshadowed by hypocrisy, politics and pathetic palaver.
Translated by Bojana Obradovic