- Published: 25.10.2019.
PM for raising citizens' trust in unbiased, independent judiciary
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday it was necessary to raise citizens' trust in the judiciary which, despite positive steps and a reduction in the number of unsolved cases, still was not at a level everyone would assess as satisfactory.
Since beginning the EU accession process 15 years ago, Croatia has reduced the number of unsolved cases from 1.65 million to 350,000, he said at Zagreb's Commercial Court on the occasion of European Day of Justice.
"One should talk about that positively. But of course, the overall situation is still not at the level we all would assess as satisfactory. That's why we and professionals are making efforts to have an even more efficient and fully unbiased and independent judiciary," he said, adding that those efforts were aimed at not just changing citizens' perception but also raising their trust in the system.
"Because the shade of trust between 'do we trust the judiciary' and 'are we angry at the state' is so tiny that it gets lost. Whenever any one of us does something wrong, we somehow arrive at the almost objective responsibility of us all who are in charge of that. That's why it's important that we act in unison, respecting the roles of all actors in the process," Plenkovic said.
He underlined the importance of the three branches of government, calling on all stakeholders to "jointly, in dialogue... help one another so the state can do what it should, so the judiciary can be more efficient and citizens more satisfied." "And if in a couple of years the perception too improves a little, we will all be happy," he said.
The prime minister said there was no doubt that judges, prosecutors, attorneys and the people in judicial bodies were crucial, and that the executive authority was there to make "the best possible frame" for their work. Their work must be completely independent, which means that decision making is left only to professionals, he said.
This independence means no political nor any other influence on decision making in the judiciary, he said. "That envisages good education and the right professional filters as to how someone advances and which position someone occupies in the judicial system."
Plenkovic recalled the government's activities concerning the legislative framework and said that in his term HRK 171 million had been invested in the digitisation of the judiciary and that HRK 164 million had been absorbed for that from EU funds. Another HRK 96 million from the state budget and another HRK 178 million from EU funds has been invested in the judicial infrastructure, he added.
In the three years of this government, HRK 449 million has been absorbed from EU funds for projects in the judiciary, he said.