Report on the current state of the Slovak Judiciara, 2012

A report  „The Slovak Judiciary: Its current state and challenges“ by Lukasz Bojarski, polish lawyer and member of the Polish National Council of Judiciary; and Werner Stemker Köster, investigating judge at Rotterdam Discrict Court, who became the special reporter for Slovakia of The Nederlands Judges for Judges Foundation in 2009. Made on request from Open Society Foundation. 

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Bullying in Black Gown

Harabin [Supreme Court chairman] is vengeful and he misuses his powers, say Supreme Court judges.

The situation at the Supreme Court allegedly resembles the totalitarian era of fear before 17 November [1989, when communist regime began to collapse in former Czechoslovakia].  A handful of judges who have taken the liberty to criticize the chairman, Stefan Harabin, have decided no longer to keep silent and have spoken out about bullying and the circumvention of the law committed, as they say, by Harabin.  Not only can they not further their education, go on official trips, and adjudicate cases that are interesting, but they have recently been swamped with an amount of work with which one cannot cope without causing delays.  This is to be ensured by a new work schedule for the next year that Stefan Harabin has prepared for them.  It is said to be a "thank you" for a recent article published in this weekly, in which we reported that the Supreme Court chairman had failed to let judge Berthotyova attend an international conference in Prague.  Even the US ambassador to Slovakia had unsuccessfully intervened in the matter.

The Supreme Court has rejected the above interpretation, though.


Like Under Totalitarian Regime

A judge critical of Harabin [Supreme Court chairman] cannot go on official trips and she feels persecuted.

The situation at the Supreme Court resembles the times of the totalitarian communist regime [in former Czechoslovakia], when disobedient individuals were not allowed to fulfill themselves professionally and ended up cleared away to the most inappropriate positions.  Elena Berthotyova, a signatory of the [judges] appeal entitled For an Open Judiciary and also a Supreme Court judge, has not been able to travel to any expert conferences and seminars and she is not even allowed to give lectures.  This is because all of the above is subject to approval by Supreme Court Chairman Stefan Harabin, who has long denied it to the judge.  Most recently, he did not let her attend the Global Forum on Public Administration and Combating Corruption in Prague, where she was to lecture and lead a thematic panel.  Even the US ambassador to Slovakia intervened in the matter with a letter.  However, Harabin remains adamant and he has not even replied to the ambassador.


Communiqué ZOJ, october 2011

A group of judges at the foundation Conference in Soporna on 15 October 2011 established the civic association Judges “For Open Judiciary“ (“ZOJ“).

The association continues in existing activities of an informal judicial initiative of the same name. It is open to all judges who are persuaded that looking for and implementation of justice is their role.

ZOJ will promote openness and transparency of judiciary, independence of judicial power and responsibility of judges for their positions.

In promoting its aims ZOJ will communicate with wide public.

Done at Soporna, 15 October 2011


JUDr. Katarina Javorcikova

ZOJ President

Articles of civic association judges "For open judiciary"








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