UN expert welcomes Italian veto of bill seen as infringing judicial independence

20 December 2004

A United Nations legal expert has welcomed Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi's veto of a judicial reform bill, seen as "a worrying limitation" of the independence of the judiciary.

The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Leandro Despouy, expressed his satisfaction at Mr. Ciampi's decision to send the bill back to the lawmakers.

Mr. Despouy had earlier written Mr. Ciampi a letter detailing his concerns. "The reforms represent a worrying limitation to the guarantees of independence that, for over a decade now, have been considered to be key features of the Italian judiciary and have conferred upon Italy an enviable international prestige and moral authority, and served as a model to other countries," he declared.

Among his concerns were the role of the Justice Ministry in nominating a chief prosecutor, paving the way for possible Government interference; the weakening of the powers of the Higher Judicial Council, the independent body in charge of controlling the judiciary; and powers attributed to the Executive over the Judiciary that are in conflict with the independence of the judiciary and are likely to result in undue Executive interference in the disciplinary process and decisions affecting judges.


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