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Monday, April 22, 2024

Prominent Slovenian constitutional lawyers are firmly against lifting the suspension of “Golob’s” amendment to the Act on RTVS

By: Andrej Žitnik (Nova24TV.si)

At the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia, a real battle is being fought between the parallel mechanism of the deep state, including its European helpers, and the rule of law. After the constitutional judges put a hold on the controversial RTV law prepared by Golob’s government, now – deep in the bowels of the court and politics – according to reports, preparations are being made to revoke the hold, and it is even rumoured that two judges who apparently “changed their mind”, were promised a European judicial service.

Constitutional judges have only one matter on their agenda today, namely the initiative to assess the constitutionality of the amendment to the Act on RTV Slovenia. At the meeting in mid-May, they had in front of them a proposal for a resolution that would lift the temporary suspension. But then they did not decide, as two judges allegedly obstructed the session (it was supposed to be Klemen Jaklič, Marko Šorli), and Rok Svetlič stayed and voted against the proposal.

The proposal was made by the president of the court and judge reporter in the case Matej Accetto. The required ordinary majority of votes, i.e., four to three, should have already been formed for the adoption of the proposal, whereby three judges who have not yet been “contaminated” can obstruct the session again and thus prevent the vote. Luka Svetina, in an article on RTV Slovenia’s Dnevnik, had a conversation with eminent lawyers and asked them whether such a practice, for judges to decide once again on a case on which they have already decided, is common. The reason is said to be new circumstances. Former constitutional judge and writer of the Slovenian constitution, Peter Jambrek, is very clear that there is no such case law.

In the history of the Constitutional Court, something like this has happened only once, and even then, only to protect the position of the initiators (in this case, the initiator of the constitutional initiative on the amendment of the Law on Radio and Television Slovenia is the first signatory president of the institution’s programme board, Peter Gregorčič), otherwise the Constitutional Court, in principle, does not change decision.

“This decision became legally binding with the decision. It is not regulated anywhere, neither in the law nor in the rules of procedure, to change the decision on the constitutional order. If this is not provided for either in the rules of procedure or in the law, then one would say that the only thing that would possibly allow this is established constitutional judicial practice,” Jambrek told for Dnevnik.

Former constitutional judge Jan Zobec is of the same opinion: “If we were to unfreeze the temporary suspension in this case, the petitioners would be deprived of judicial protection, their situation would deteriorate irreparably, and the mandates would immediately cease ex lege irreversibly. They would be under judicial protection. This would be something unheard of – for the Constitutional Court to close the doors of the Constitutional Court to the petitioners who have no other judicial protection than the exclusive petition. This would be a precedent and the case would end up at the ECHR.”

Former constitutional judge Tone Jerovšek adds: “However, if the constitutional judges changed their mind, the decision would have to be taken with an absolute majority. This means that at least five judges would have to vote in favour: “Removing the suspension would result in the law’s immediate enforcement. Of course, this is not an interim decision, it is a decision on the entry into force of the law, which means that such a decision cannot be made by four judges. The decision on the immediate entry into force of the law can only be taken with five votes. Four cannot unfreeze it.”

Former Prime Minister Miro Cerar Jr. agrees that it will be difficult for the judges to find reasons to change the decision: “I am afraid that we cannot expect a very convincing justification, because obviously the main reason for this situation is some internal inability, blockage or stalemate, which certainly cannot be a convincing reason for such a change of attitude as is now being announced as a possibility.”

It is about defending the foundations of the rule of law

It is clear that Golob’s coalition wants to subjugate the public institution completely and permanently with the law on RTV Slovenia and run it together with “its” institutions and interest organisations from behind, just as the government already runs most of the national economy.

The constitutional judges also found that it is a law that has serious potential problems with constitutionality, and in February the law was put on hold. Then the pogrom of Golob’s coalition began, first with inspections that harassed the leaders every day (but never found anything), then unfortunately even with their political allies in the European Commission – European Commissioner Věra Jourova scandalously visited constitutional judge Matej Accetto precisely at a sensitive time, when the Constitutional Court was deciding on an amendment, and her cabinet even lied that this was nothing unusual (in fact, it is somewhat unusual, as the commissioner has only visited three constitutional courts in four years, including her own, and twice in Slovenia!).

There are whispers in the media that at the meeting, Accetto was promised a high European job, and later so was Rajko Knez, which is almost the only way to explain the possible action today in order to diametrically change the opinion regarding the suspension of the law (at that time, together with clearly told the other judges that it is about possible damage to the current programme councillors).

Another obstruction

If media reports are to be believed, the obstruction of the three constitutional judges was the only reason that the suspension was not lifted at the previous session (Accetto already explained to “his” journalists on Radio Slovenia that there is a new consensus regarding the law). There is a possibility that the three uncontaminated constitutional judges will also obstruct the decision to lift the suspension at today’s session.

Jambrek does not see any problems in this: “I think that all these judges who are opposed to this change of the temporary order can certainly refuse their presence and thus refuse the meeting’s quorum, because by changing or by voting again on this regulation or the decision would violate the legal principle ne bis in idem (so we cannot decide on the same thing again).”

Zobec goes even further. Boycotting such a decision is not only an option, but a constitutional duty to protect constitutionality. It would be a conscientious objection, to which they are undoubtedly entitled.

What if the hold is lifted?

“It would be almost necessary and logical for a public hearing to be convened, at which the Slovenian public, which receives its information from RTV Slovenia as a public service, would decide what kind of public service it should have and whether this temporary order is really such that should change on the basis of changed factual and possibly also legal circumstances,” Jambrek believes.

In any case, then the judgment would move to the halls of the European Court of Human Rights, where the programme councillors would present their objections. In accordance with established practice, the ECHR would of course annul the law, the councillors would receive compensation, but this would probably only happen after the end of the current government’s mandate, when the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia would have been permanently hijacked anyway, and the decision irrelevant. However, Slovenia would become permanently stigmatised as a country without a government.

It is clear, then, that only three people represent the defender of the Slovenian rule of law and the legal order.


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