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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

MP Kaloh: This Is A Legislative Mess That Is A Mockery Of The Slovenian Constitution And The Rule Of Law

By: Sara Bertoncelj/ Nova24TV

“Robert Golob’s coalition has trampled on the Constitution at least twice in two days, passing controversial legislation and passing laws that are harmful to the people. The Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly has been critical of the Institute of the 8th of March’s bill, as were the Slovenian Democratic Party MPs,” the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) parliamentary group stressed. On Thursday, MP Dejan Kaloh stressed that the SDS parliamentary group would not support the “legislative mess” which is a mockery of the Slovenian Constitution and the rule of law. The SDS party also highlighted the 11 laws for which the Institute of the 8th of March proposed amendments, adding that their proposals are unfounded.

“The intention of the bill, tabled by the Institute of the 8th of March, is that you want to have control over schools and kindergartens through the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia; you want to have an Interior Minister who controls the Slovenian Police and who will possibly order political prosecution, you want to have expert commissions in the Ministry of Culture, which will be composed of representatives of non-governmental organisations that favour your political option, you want to have a prosecutor’s office that will be subordinate to your political option and will reject any criminal charges against any tycoons,” the MP Dejan Kaloh pointed out, adding that they also want the NGOs in the field of environmental and nature protection to be involved in the tearing down of every possible project. Kaloh added that the SDS parliamentary group would not support this “legislative mess,” which is a mockery of the Slovenian Constitution and the rule of law.

Among other things, Kaloh also said that the proposers of the bill, the Institute of the 8th of March, were not able to provide any objective assessments of the reasons for the proposed amendments but only assessed them on a subjective level, thus calling into question the principle of trust in the law. “There is no rational reason for an urgent procedure to adopt the bill. The reason is political,” Kaloh then pointed out and went on to explain that the first paradox is already apparent in the assessment of the situation as those who proposed the bill see it. There simply cannot be a reasoned assessment of the state of the effects of the laws adopted during the term of the 14th government, which the proposers are targeting with this bill, given the short time span from their adoption to now. They want to change the 11 laws that are in force already after a very short period of time of their enactment – which, of course, undermines the principle of legal certainty. The proposers have not been able to provide an objective assessment of the reasons for the proposed amendments, they only did so on a purely subjective level, thereby calling into question the principle of trust in the law, ensuring legal continuity, and avoiding a legal vacuum.

The MP also pointed out that the SDS parliamentary group believes that an objective assessment of the actual situation should be obtained before the implementation of solutions that violate the principle of trust in the law. “There is no rational and realistic reason to consider and adopt the proposed solutions so quickly and before a comprehensive assessment of the state of implementation of these laws in practice is made,” he said. The SDS parliamentary group only sees one reason for the adoption of such a law – and it is political. Therefore, it is a completely irrational reason and a completely irrational opposition to the legal solutions adopted under the previous government.

The coalition trampled on the Constitution at least twice in two days, passing controversial legislation and laws that are harmful to the people On Tuesday, the Committee on the Interior, Public Administration and Local Self-Government held a hearing on a bill against the so-called harmful measures of the previous government, which was submitted to the legislative process by representatives of the non-governmental organisation the Institute of the 8th of March. The Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly was critical of the bill, as were the SDS MPs. The Legislative and Legal Service believes that amending several laws with one bill, the so-called omnibus bill, is not justified in this case. The Service suggests that each law should be amended separately. It also pointed out that the name of the bill in question does not reflect its substantive content but rather the proponents’ subjective assessment and therefore advises that the name of the bill be adjusted accordingly. The Service also pointed out that the bill contains an amendment to the Corporate Income Act, which is exempt from the referendum procedure, meaning that the whole bill cannot be put to a referendum. The bill has also been considered by the State Council’s Commission on State Regulation, which gave a negative opinion on it. The Commission supported the solutions of the previous government, so it would be pointless to change its opinion now, adding that most of these measures have not yet entered into force and that it is not yet possible to talk about the harmful consequences of the laws in question.

In the debate at the meeting of the committee, SDS MP Janez Magyar pointed out that it is impossible to give a realistic assessment of harmful policy interventions.

“How can you assess that when the laws have only just been adopted?” the MP asked. He also pointed out that the law in question was a deliberate violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia. Anja Bah Žibert, another SDS MP, pointed out that this bill infringes on a number of laws. “I would like to point out that we are entering a very dangerous area here because if we start passing laws like this, meaning that one law can affect many other laws, it may mean that the next time, another government will repeal all the laws that were passed in the previous mandate, with its first law. These are dangerous ways to adopt legislation,” said Bah Žibert. In the continuation of the debate, she added that the proposers had drafted a bill and got around 15 thousand signatures in favour of it but then later added another ten pages of amendments to the proposal. “What do you have to say about these amendments? Do you have the mandate to agree with this? Will the law still be the same as when people signed it, in agreement with it? Are all of your promises you made to the people about what this law would solve still standing?” MP Bah Žibert wondered.

SDS MP Žan Mahnič said that he wants to thank the Institute of the 8th of March because, with this bill, they have given lots of credit to the government of Janez Janša, led by the SDS party, for doing a good job, “because the government of Janez Janša changed 241 laws in its two years in power, and you are proposing to only change 11 of them.” He added that under Golob’s government, Slovenia has apparently been “Orbanised” and that everything that the leftists accused the previous government of doing, they are not doing themselves – but accelerated. SDS MP Branko Grims, MSc, then pointed out that leaders all over Europe are currently busy with the search for and provision of energy and foodstuffs, in addition to dealing with everything else that is threatening Europe at the moment. “Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dr Robert Golob is sunbathing by the Adriatic Sea, which suggests that there is clearly no state of emergency in our country,” he added. He also pointed out that with the adoption of the amendments, “this is no longer the law that was submitted and that the voters signed in favour of – it has become the law of the coalition.” Grims also shared that this disputes the last argument for the procedure they had chosen to follow. “With these amendments, you have hurt people, both natural and legal persons, who believed in the legal order of the Republic of Slovenia,” the MP said. He believes that adopting laws in this way is in clear contradiction with the rule of law of the Republic of Slovenia, as those who are affected by a change in the law should have the opportunity to comment on it and make alternative proposals at some point in the process. “You have not given them the opportunity to do so, which means that the adoption of the law in this way is more than obviously unconstitutional,” Grims added.

Amendments adopted at the committee, at the proposal of the coalition groups, have planted content in the bill that further restricts eligibility for the purchase of category A firearms (point 8.a) for sporting purposes. Such a narrowing of eligibility does not follow from the objectives, purposes and solutions set out by the sponsors in the explanatory memorandum to the bill. Nor does it follow that such a narrowing was the intention of the proposers of the bill themselves. This is no longer the content that the citizens agreed to when they signed the bill but rather the content of the ruling coalition – the Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda), the Social Democrats (Socialni demokrati – SD) and the Left party (Levica).

Such interference in the content of the law by means of amendments, when they are of a legal and substantive nature, affects legal and natural persons who have placed their trust in the legal order of the Republic of Slovenia. This is an impermissible interference in the law, which infringes the principle of trust in the law, as one of the principles of the rule of law set out in Article 2 of the Slovenian Constitution (the so-called “non-retroactivity”), which is excessive and thus constitutionally objectionable, and the public concerned by such content should have had the opportunity to participate in the procedure and share their opinion. The proposed amendment tabled by the coalition groups of the Committee on the Interior, Public Administration and Local Self-Government, impermissibly infringed the legitimate expectations of natural and legal persons who take part in shooting sports competitions, including at the international level.

The amendment would effectively prevent the shooting sport in Slovenia and prevent both training and competitions at the international level. The Slovenian Association for Practical Shooting also pointed that out. The amendments adopted at the Committee meeting constitute a ban on the use of weapons under point 8a of category A for sports shooters as well. Such a ban would have dire consequences for the participation of competitors competing with long-barrelled weapons in the disciplines of rifle, mini-rifle and PCC. This ban would effectively permanently eliminate some of the disciplines in which Slovenian competitors compete at home and around the world, and they are very successful at it, as Slovenia is one of the most successful of the more than 133 countries in the world that are members of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). This ban would make it impossible for many sports shooters to participate in competitions, and the existence and development of these disciplines would be over in an instant. The Olympic Committee of Slovenia has also called for reflection on the negative consequences of the ban.

The SDS party went on to highlight the 11 laws for which the Institute of the 8th of March proposed amendments The Organisation and Financing of Education Act: they state that they want to eliminate solutions that would allow for greater influence of politics in schools and kindergartens by changing the composition of the councils of institutions in the Organisation and Financing of Education Act – without giving any substantiated reasons as to how the composition of the councils of educational institutions according to the 3+3+3 formula (representatives of the founder, parents and employees) constitutes influence of politics in schools and kindergartens. On the contrary, the solution adopted by the Janez Janša government has brought balance and equality of position to the councils of institutions.

The Organisation and Work of the Police Act: they state that they want to abolish the solutions adopted in the Act in question, which increase the influence of the Ministry of the Interior in the recruitment of senior police positions and interfere with the autonomy of the National Bureau of Investigation. The proposal highlights the criticism made by the Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly and the two police unions during the process of adopting the law that was adopted by the government of Janez Janša and whether and how they affect the effectiveness of the work of the police.

The Exercising of the Public Interest in Culture Act: they state that they want to abolish the previously adopted solutions that increase the power of the Minister of Culture and take away the importance of the decisions of expert committees in awarding public funding for cultural programmes and projects. The law, adopted during the term of the Janez Janša government, followed the nature of the competent expert commissions, which are consultative bodies and were not deprived of their powers.

The Criminal Code: they state that they want to abolish the solutions which allow for unequal treatment in the offences of threat and coercion, depending on whether they are done to public officials or ordinary people. However, the proposers do not provide any evidence to support their allegations, nor do they indicate what the effects of the amended criminalisation of the reprehensible offences of coercion and threat have been.

The Nature Conservation Act: they state that they want to abolish the solutions adopted in the Nature Conservation Act, which set impossible conditions for the participation of environmental NGOs in administrative and judicial proceedings. We would like to point out that the amendment of this law during the government of Janez Janša established the seriousness and professionalism of the activities – the active involvement of NGOs working in the field in such a way that they could not restrict major infrastructure projects because of their own interests.

The Foreigners Act: they state that they want to abolish the solutions adopted in the Foreigners Act, which allow for discrimination against foreign students on the basis of their socio-economic status when studying in Slovenia. The condition of sufficient means of subsistence for obtaining a residence permit for the purpose of studying here had to be fulfilled by foreigners before the regulation adopted by the Government of Janez Janša came to power. The regulation only changed the way of proving the means of support for those foreigners and students, for whom there is a legal obligation of maintenance on the part of their parents or their legal representatives, as it abolished the possibility that a written declaration of the student’s parents, who are obliged to support the student under the law of the country of which he or she is a citizen, would suffice as proof of the fulfilment of the condition of sufficient means of subsistence, at least in the amount equal to the basic amount of the minimum income in the Republic of Slovenia, as proof for the student.

The Road Transport Act: they state that they want to abolish the solutions adopted to allow Uber to enter the Slovenian market, which will jeopardise the already poor socio-economic situation of the taxi drivers. The provisions enacted under the Janez Janša government regulate the possibility of ordering taxi services through an app in a general and abstract way and address an unspecified range of addressees rather than a specific entity. The transporter can decide whether to provide these services with the use of a taximeter or an app.

The State Prosecution Service Act: they state that they want to abolish the solutions which have interfered with the independence of public prosecutors. However, the regulation adopted by the government of Janez Janša did not interfere with the independence or the work of the public prosecutors but regulated the supervision of the work of the public prosecutor in a similar way to how it was done before the adoption of the amendments.

The Weapons Act: they state that they want to abolish the adopted solutions which allow members of NGOs in the field of defence, not only sports shooters, to buy semi-automatic rifles and pistols. However, the Institute of the 8th of March’s proposal constitutes an interference with acquired rights and is therefore also unjustified from the point of view of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia.

The Building Act: they state that they want to abolish the solutions adopted which interfere with the competencies of architects and civil engineers in the design and management of construction, regardless of their professional qualifications. The new Construction Law, drafted by the government of Janez Janša, became applicable on the 1st of June 2022, so it is not yet even possible to give a reasoned assessment of its implementation. The Institute of the 8th of March’s proposal is therefore unfounded.

The Corporate Income Tax Act: they state that they want to abolish the solutions adopted in the Corporate Income Tax Act, which allow tax gifts to legal persons. The solutions put in place under the Janez Janša government provide an incentive for corporations to engage in less tax avoidance practices than before and ensure stricter treatment of countries that encourage harmful tax practices. This has led to more transparent and fairer corporate taxation. Incentive measures, in terms of rewarding certain tax breaks for donations for various purposes, for employment and for investment in the green and digital transition will also have positive effects on economic recovery.

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