Slovak president blasts government’s prosecution reforms, threatens veto

Slovak president blasts government’s prosecution reforms, threatens veto |

Slovakia’s president said on Friday (8 December) she would likely veto the government’s planned fast-track changes to criminal law that include scrapping a special prosecutor’s office that has focused on corruption, saying the plan needed proper debate.

Zuzana Čaputová said the proposed changes included unacceptable political meddling in personnel matters, threatened to weaken the position of whistle-blowers and could lead to a halt in the inflow of European Union funds.

The European Commission, which has clashed with EU members Poland and Hungary in the past over rule-of-law issues, has urged Slovakia not to make hasty changes, a call joined by the United States on Thursday.

Veteran Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government, appointed in October, said on Wednesday it aimed to approve legislation by Christmas that would disband as soon as in January the special prosecutor’s office (USP) that has been in place for two decades to battle graft and organised crime.

Slovak president blasts government’s prosecution reforms, threatens veto |

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According to a leaked document, the European Commission has received a reform proposal from the government of new and controversial Prime Minister Robert Fico, which aims to dismantle the Special Prosecutor’s Office – a move the opposition says poses a “direct …

Fico said in response to Čaputová’s remarks that there were relevant reasons to rush, as prosecutors’ actions threatened basic rights, and that he would strive to approve the reforms in parliament by the end of the year.

“There is no other institution in Slovakia where the threat to fundamental rights and freedoms of Slovak citizens would be as acute as in the case of the USP (special prosecutor’s office),” he said in a statement.

Fico resigned as premier in 2018 amid mass protests against corruption that followed the murder of an investigative journalist.

Fico, whose new coalition has a sufficient majority in parliament to overturn a presidential veto, has accused the special prosecutor’s office of being politically motivated and has said its actions violated human rights.

Čaputová said part of the reasoning behind the move to disband the office was to oust USP head Daniel Lipšic. Lipšic served as interior minister in a government opposed to Fico in 2010-2012, and has been called “an evil” by Fico.

“Such step seems purpose-built and inadmissible personnel intervention by political power into the functioning of the prosecution,” Čaputová said.

The proposal would mean “fundamental changes in criminal law, which are to happen in a groundlessly fast fashion, without sufficient expert preparation, and without communication with the lay and expert public,” she said.

Since the 2020 victory of an anti-Fico coalition, the USP has investigated over 100 people including police and judicial officials and influential businessmen, and around another 40 have been sentenced, according to Slovak media.

Slovak president blasts government’s prosecution reforms, threatens veto |

EU prosecutor’s office concerned by Slovakia slashing jail terms for corruption

Slovakia could lose access to EU funds under the rule of law conditionality mechanism as the EU’s public prosecutor cites a lack of “effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal sanctions” to punish offences against the EU budget.

Proposals to


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