Justice reform shot down by Parliament

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Justice Minister Emily Yiolitis blasted MPs after parliament rejected a series of bills she submitted to reform a dysfunctional Cyprus justice system, accusing Opposition parties of acting in their own interest.

The bills were aimed at speeding up Cyprus justice delivery, which is among Europe’s slowest.

They were rejected by Opposition MPs in the House Legal Committee, except for ruling DISY, which means the bills will not be voted on.

“Unfortunately, the specific parties did not show a responsible attitude and preferred to further extend the delay in the delivery of justice.

“They chose not to rise to the occasion or overcome micropolitical expediencies,” Yiolitis said in a statement issued Wednesday.

She argued the cost of not passing the bills would continue to be borne by Cypriots, as court cases will continue to take an average of 14 years to be adjudicated.

Yiolitis, last week, urged MPs to back the government’s justice reform “as it cannot be put off any longer”.

She said consultations have been going on for years and that nothing would change by June when the new parliament reconvenes, except starting again from scratch.

Following a House Legal Affairs Committee meeting, chair DISY MP George Georgiou said: “For petty political expediencies, the opposition blocked the bills, destroyed the collective work, essentially throwing the bills in the trash.”

Leading opposition party AKEL MP Aristos Damianou criticized the Justice Minister for “failing to bring a comprehensive and agreed legislative framework to the Parliament on the reform”.

He argued that Yiolitis had tabled the bills a few weeks before the House dissolved ahead of May elections, “with the possibility that some of the bills are unconstitutional”.

DIKO MP Christiana Erotokritou argued the government was pressuring MPs to pass the bills without due process, “endangering the endeavour of reforming the justice system”.