Former Attorney General Alecos Markides says the judicial system in the Republic of Cyprus has not adapted to the demands of the modern state, pointing out a number of failures from inexperienced judges to a lack of check and balances.
Markides told daily Politis that a number of cases are complicated but judges presiding over them do not have the necessary qualifications or experience.
“We have a problem in the delivery of speedy justice but also quality. And we shouldn’t confuse quality with whether justice is independent or impartial or unbiased. In many cases, court rulings are not at the level they should have been,” the former attorney general said.
Not up to speed
As for professional training, there is a notion in Cyprus that those sitting on the bench “know everything”
One criticism is that while Cyprus is upgrading its maritime industry, according to Markides, it has failed to make sure that courts can stay open in the evenings, on weekends and holidays.
“You can’t be a country that wants to offer nautical services but have a court that doesn’t operate on weekends, nights and holidays, so that, for example, if a ship has to be detained or issue an emergency order before a departure,” he said.
Judgers are appointed by a Executive Judicial Council, which Markides explains it is essentially made up of the 13 judges who sit on the bench of the Supreme Court. This raises a number of issues because Supreme Court judges are being named an executive judicial council with authority to exercise disciplinary checks, transfer and promote other judges.
“If you have a complaint, you’ll need to take up the issue with them directly. Essentially, they will be called to pass judgment on their own actions,” Markides said.
Need drastic changes
The former attorney general is echoing criticism also offered by Loukis Loukaides, another well known Cypriot attorney who has also served on the ECHR, both of whom have spoken publicly on the need fo drastic changes.
Another Cypriot judge, Yiorgos Sergides, had been appointed to the ECHR while his experience in family courts would never have landed him a spot on the Supreme Court in Cyprus. Markides finds this situation problematic, saying that a family court in Cyprus enjoys less prestige for its jurisprudence.
Markides says justice has to be delivered by more competent judges who will specialise in their field and also go through rigorous exams and scrutiny. Additional training should be the norm for appointed judges, but Markides says there is a notion in Cyprus that those already sitting on the bench “know everything.”