Feb 22, 2012

Partitocracy and Distrust

European Court of Human Rights decided in Hrdalo v. Croatia that:

"... persons appointed to a public office must enjoy public confidence, and that this confidence may be undermined by the mere suspicion that the person in question has committed a criminal offence. It further notes that under Croatian law the Government of Croatia have the power to appoint and remove heads of regional State administration offices at their own discretion. That being so, and given the fact that the applicant in the present case was not dismissed from, but transferred to another post within the civil service, the Court considers that his removal from his position as Head of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County State Administration Office on account of his non-final conviction of 18 December 2003 was not disproportionate to the legitimate aim pursued by that interference."

This decision appeared at time of intensive appointments to public offices, following the general elections in late 2011. It also contributes to the debate about final and non-final judicial decisions. Following Hrdalo, it has become clear that a "mere suspicion" undermines public confidence.

The Ministry of Justice reported the case (in Croatian) in the usual way, however, failing to recognize the point quoted above. In the meantime, some controversial appointments were stopped within the ruling coalition. 

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