MPs urged to back justice reform

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Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis urged MPs to approve a series of justice reform bills submitted to parliament to avoid Cyprus being tarnished with an ultra-slow legal system.

“The justice reform is an urgent need and cannot be put off any longer,” Yiolitis told CyBC radio on Thursday.

She said discussions could not go on forever and that nothing would change by June when the new parliament reconvenes, except starting from scratch again.

Yiolitis argued consultations have been going on for years, adding that a working group was set up to consult with the political parties and stakeholders under her term.

“I consider criticism that not enough time for consultation was given unfair.”

She believes broad convergences were found, and there is consensus among those involved.

It takes 6-7 years for a case to be resolved at a district court and 6-7 years for the Supreme Court to adjudicate a case.

“It could take a total of 14 years for a case to be closed in our courts. With the new structure and the reform, cases will be completed, instead of 14 years, in about two years.”

Cyprus has been told by the European Commission to reform its notoriously slow justice system, and its recommendations are linked to the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility.

The House Legal Affairs Committee had discussed the three bills with Yiolitis last week, with the opposition complaining they were not given enough time to study the texts.

“Reforming the justice system is not a stroll at the mall,” said main opposition Akel MP Aristos Damianou in comments to CyBC.

Damianou argued the bills have loopholes, weaknesses and vague provisions and discussion needed to continue, noting that this cannot be done in 10 days.

Parliament is scheduled to dissolve on 23 April.