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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