Keeping politics out of the law

June 23, 2009

A report approved today by the Legal Affairs Com­mit­tee of the Coun­cil of Europe Par­lia­men­tary Assem­bly (PACE) has rec­om­mended a series of steps to boost the inde­pen­dence of judges across Europe to end what it calls “politically-motivated inter­fer­ence” in indi­vid­ual cases.

The report, pre­pared by Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger (Ger­many, ALDE), exposes ways that politi­cians can med­dle with the law in four coun­tries rep­re­sent­ing the prin­ci­pal types of crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in Europe, analysing high-profile cases such as the drop­ping of the BAE fraud inves­ti­ga­tion and “cash for hon­ours” scan­dal in the United King­dom, or the sec­ond Khodor­kovsky trial, HSBC/Hermitage Cap­i­tal case and Politkovskaya inves­ti­ga­tion in Russia.

Among other things, the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans call for:

• in Rus­sia, a series of reforms to reduce the polit­i­cal pres­sures on judges and end the harass­ment of defence lawyers in order to com­bat “legal nihilism” in Russia.

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