Slovakia Parliament fast-tracks vote on proposed criminal law reforms News
Vityavo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Slovakia Parliament fast-tracks vote on proposed criminal law reforms

Slovakia’s Parliament announced on Thursday that it will adopt a fast-track legislative process to vote on Prime Minister Robert Fico’s proposal to reform Slovakia’s criminal law and dissolve the Special Prosecutor’s Office. This comes after lawmakers approved the fast-track procedure, which expedites the voting process on Fico’s proposal.

The reforms were introduced by Fico in December as a way to weaken penalties for financial offenses and dissolve the Special Prosecutor’s Office, which handles serious crimes such as corruption. Slovakia’s government said that the reforms were aimed at eliminating alleged bias and unfair treatment of its officials.

Opposition parties have disapproved of the fast-track legislative process and criminal reforms. Member of the Slovak Parliament Michal Šimečka condemned the fast-track procedure and said that the reforms are aimed at ensuring impunity for individuals associated with Fico’s party. In addition, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová stated that she is willing to institute a constitutional challenge to the reforms. She said that the reforms would jeopardize Slovakia’s rule of law and damage society.

The European Parliament expressed concerns over the fast-track procedure and proposed reforms on January 17. The European Parliament wrote that “[t]hese changes threaten the integrity of judicial processes and undermine the EU’s fight against fraud according to [members of the European Parliament].” While Fico said the government would consider the European Commission’s suggestions, he stated that such suggestions would not fundamentally change the proposed criminal law reforms and dissolution of the Special Prosecutor’s Office.

The fast-track procedure and proposed reforms were met with protests in Slovakia, France, Poland and the Czech Republic. Šimečka expressed support of the protests in writing that individuals who oppose the reforms will not be silenced. He also said that he would not give up on defending justice and freedom in Slovakia.

On January 18, Čaputová called upon lawmakers to reconsider Fico’s proposed reforms. She said that Fico’s proposal may violate the Constitution, Slovakia’s legislative process and the rule of law. On January 17, the European Parliament adopted a resolution where it suggested that Fico’s proposal may impede freedom, endanger the rule of law and restrict the work of non-governmental organizations in Slovakia.