Ο Γ.Γραμματέας της Εταιρίας Δρ Γ.Αλμπούρας- Εφέτης, Σύμβουλος στο Υπουργείο Δικαιοσύνης, απάντησε σε ερωτήσεις του εκδότη του γερμανικού περιοδικού Betrifft JUSTIZ σχετικά με την κατάσταση των ελλήνων δικαστικών λειτουργών κατά την οικονομική κρίση.
1.What has changed in your personal professional environment due to the Greek crisis and the austerity policy??
We have many changes in our legislation, substantial and procedural. At the same time the need of the people to be supported is waxed but the access to justice is in some instances impeded.
2. How are judges affected by the austerity policy? Has your income been cut back?
Our average income has been decreased by 50 – 60%, the tax charges included. After a decision of a specific court a part of 15% of this cut has been given back.
For example, are there now less judges / less court personel to deal with the cases?
By the new regime of memorandums there are no clerks hired any more. As a result the staff has decreased considerably. As an example in the Council of the State, for 150 judges there are only 75 clerks serving.
3. Have there been changes decided by parliament concerning the court procedures? Do you think this will make the proceedings better / faster?
By the amended CCP, which is of course voted by the parliament, witnesses will not be heard in court (except if court decides differently). In addition many legal remedies are cut off during the enforcement of the decision. In my opinion the shrinkage of the right of access to court is a blow against the human rights, even if in sometimes there was an abuse in the use of those legal remedies. With less legal remedies the judicial process becomes quicker, but in the same time the substantial truth becomes the victim. The enforcement phase exempted there is no important change in the rhythm of the judicial processes.
4. How does the austerity policy affect defendants / parties in civil proceedings?
The obligation to pay court fees is extended to all processes while before it was imposed just to ordering payments. In addition fees are inflicted in case of legal remedies.
But the most important issue is that there is a very important shrinkage of all civil cases due to economic recession, which in some cases meets the 70%.
5. What about legal representation? Is there some pro bono legal help, or are lawyers fees by the state and this has changed now or will change?
Legal representation is mandatory almost for all civil cases. In case of proven poverty legal assistance is provided for free by the State. There is an increasing number of such cases.
Concerning misdemeanors legal representation is not obligatory and in such cases an increasing number of citizens is coming along to court without a lawyer. For felonies legal representation is mandatory. Even if in such cases the absence of a counsel inflicts the court to assign a lawyer for the defendant, this solution is not so effective for the defendant as the appointed lawyer is never so well prepared as the one chosen and paid by his client.
We can wait for amendments of the system of legal assistance, which provides a lawyer for any kind of case, meaning that a shrinkage of the scope of this law under the crisis is expected.
6. How do you think the courts have been affected, and what is the most important change in your view?
7. Will the measures have a substantial share to help towards the debt crisis?
The measures are aiming to economize public expenditure. The real impact to the economic function is not known or known just by economists. What is obvious is that the states’ agencies encounter very considerable difficulties to implement their missions.
8. Is there a discussion about the level of legal representation and court procedures in comparison to the level of other EC member states?
For example: Do you think the level in greece is significantly lower than in most EC member states or at least in member states who had to deal with austerity measures (Portugal/ Ireland).
The shrinkage of civil cases is obvious. Citizens instead are resorting to the more inexpensive penal jurisdiction. Thus there is an increased number of such cases.
Lawyers are complaining about for loosing income. Up to now courts are adjudicating cases as usually, even if a delay in the issue of decisions is observed.
On the other hand there is no opened discussion upon this issue. The economic crisis as a whole and the rescue of the greek economy is up to now the main concern of all of us.
9. The cuts in social and public administration budgets affect people in Greece various ways. How do you think do these measures damage human rights standards in Greece?
By the capital controls there is an important strike against the right of property. Imports and exports are considerably obstructed or even forbidden.
Universities are deprived of their personnel and encounter a very important problem of function. Thus there is a hurt against the right of education.
The fees for medication, medical tests and medical services in general are considerably augmented. While at the same time the public hospitals lack of essential means in general, medical staff included. There is a strike against the right to health.
In general the economic recession brings unemployment which is in deed
equal to the deprivation of the right to life.
Do you agree to the GNCHR STATEMENT on the impact of the continuing austerity measures on human rights in Greece?
Austerity measure, up to now, brought no economic recovery and there is no any sign that there will bring it in the future.
10. Did the statement have a maior impact on politics in Greece?
Are the measures described in the GNCHR-statement topics in a social political general discussion?
There was not up to now time or way of discussion. The general feeling is that there was not alternative and the greek society is blackmailed to accept the measures.
Do these discussions include standards in other member states of the EC?
11. In 2014 the European court of human rights stated 50 greek judgments with at least one violation of the european charta of human rights. Maior issues were inhuman or degrading treatment (20 cases), length of proceedings (26 cases), the right to an effective remedy (24 cases) and the right to liberty and security (9 cases) (http://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Stats_violation_2014_ENG.pdf).
Do you think there is a tie between greek violations to the economic impact of the austerity politics?
I feel that this link is unfair. Such convictions are observed almost to all countries.
Could you describe the effects of the austerity policy to the social rights protection?
13. Do you feel the greek debt crisis comes to a permant status of state emergency in greece?
Yes, as during the last five years even the Council of the State accepted that the Constitution is not possible to be implemented due to the condition of necessity.
14. How do you think does this effect the democratic decision making process ? Does “economic emergency” erode constitutional forms and procedures ?
Is there the danger of compromizing the greek national sovereignty?
In my opinion there is no national sovereignty any more. Todate the greek authorities are not legiferating any more, but the laws are dictated by the foreign institutions.
15 What alternative paths out of the economic crisis in greece would you like to be treated?
If the solution is not possible to come in the system of the EU the greek people (even some other Europeans as well) will be obliged to search out for it outside the EU.