Committee wants vetting of judges with Yugoslav bar exam

Ljubljana – The parliamentary Justice Committee asked the Judicial Council on Friday to conduct an analysis of whether judges who had passed the bar exam in former Yugoslav republics qualify for the job.

Another resolution asks the government, Supreme Court and Judicial Council to draw up legislation that will ensure the transparency of the judiciary, shorten procedures, and provide appropriate oversight.

The resolutions were adopted at a session that was called by the coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi), and the opposition National Party (SNS). They framed the debate as an attempt to restore people’s trust in the judiciary and safeguard its independence.

The debate, which the opposition walked out of in protest, came in the aftermath of allegations by several media close to the government implying that one Supreme Court judge, Branko Masleša, does not have the qualifications for the job.

Masleša, who is 70 and graduated in Sarajevo, showed his diploma and bar exam earlier this week after being asked to do so by the Judicial Council following weeks of media reports questioning his credentials.

Democrat (SDS) deputy Dejan Kaloh said that despite Masleša having shown the documents, there were still doubts as to the validity of his bar exam.

New Slovenia (NSi) deputy Blaž Pavlin said that any doubt about a judge’s qualifications could erode public trust in the judiciary.

“An average citizen finds it hard to understand it takes almost two months to clarify an important issue such as whether a Supreme Court judge satisfies the job requirements,” he said.

Before walking out, opposition deputies warned that the goal of the session was to discredit individual judges, Masleša in particular.

Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy Tina Heferle said the coalition was exerting pressure on the judiciary. “After the penal code fiasco, we don’t believe anything you say any more.”