Post-resignation, aide issues sharp critique of Justice Ministry

Ljubljana – Anže Erbežnik has voiced harsh criticism of the situation at the Ministry of Justice and of his former boss in his letter of resignation as a state secretary a day after his resignation was made public, saying he stepped down because he was unable to work respecting EU law, the rule of law and human rights.

“As to the key issue of European delegated prosecutors, the ministry is trying to cover up for its own mistakes in the past unsuccessful appointment procedure, such as by censoring legal explanations to the media and other stakeholders,” he says in the letter, published by the newspaper Delo on Wednesday.

“This prevents appropriate communication and the resolution of the issue of the prosecutors in a lawful and amicable way, without a legal dispute. There is even a threat of a legal action by the European Commission,” he says about Slovenia still not having named its European delegated prosecutors.

He says the issue has caused the ministry’s main responsibilities to be on the back burner, such as extraditions to third countries where in his view the ministry in some cases does not honour commitments under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and is trying to extradite individuals to third countries despite the risk of them being subjected to torture, and inhumane or humiliating conduct.

He goes on to say that no one at the ministry is interested in the anti-Semitism strategy and expert services are reluctant to take it on due to unresponsiveness by the political leadership.

In Erbežnik’s view the EU is in a serious existential crisis, which he says is being manifested in the judiciary through conflicts between the EU Court and certain national constitutional courts, differing interpretations of Article 4 of the Treaty of EU over the concept of national identity and the rule of law, and over whether payments be made conditional on the rule of law.

“Presidency in such a situation is not and cannot be a technical presidency, but a serious substantive presiding over an attempt to solve those issues as the bloc’s future existence could depend on it.”

Erbežnik accuses Minister Marjan Dikaučič of lacking a basic command of EU law. “I believe it is utterly irresponsible if the minister is leading demanding criminal law trilogue/negotiations that deal directly with cross-border sharing of sensitive electronic information, without having a basic knowledge of such a complex instrument and not knowing about the basics of EU criminal justice.”

Given the lack of expertise, Erbežnik believes the ministry’s leadership is not in a position to establish an appropriate leadership of the administration, so that instead the administration runs the ministry and the minister.

“I can also not take part in leading a ministry where there is a potential intertwinement of the minister’s private interests and legal disputes and the ministry’s individual decisions (such as in the case of notary positions),” says Erbežnik.

Justice Minister Dikaučič told the STA on Tuesday the state secretary had resigned due to “diverging views on the management of the portfolio and the role of the state secretary”.