Wednesday 22 March 2023

Politicians should take responsibility for their own laws, says legal chief


Politicians should take responsibility for their own laws and stop pointing at judges who make rulings they disagree with, the chairman of the Dutch council for the judiciary has said in his traditional New Year’s speech.

‘Stop hiding behind our robes and take responsibility for the law-making and decision-taking which is apparently falling short,’ Henk Naves said in his speech.

While there is nothing wrong with politicians criticising judges, Naves said he missed support from others who did not agree. ‘Most [politicians] stay silent and are complicit,’ he said. ‘More than that, the accusations against judges have been embraced by a parliamentary working party which is now looking into ‘the rule of law’.’

Judges, he said, do not simply come up with their rulings. ‘Judges apply the law as it has been established by lawmakers and test compliance with international treaties which have been adopted by parliament,’ he said. ‘These are rules which the government has to adhere to as well.’

Judges at the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, came under fire last May for finding that the government was not doing enough to cut nitrogen compound pollution in line with the law. At the end of the year, Supreme Court judges were also criticised for ruling that parliament should do more to cut pollution in a ground-breaking case based on international treaties.

Far right politician Thierry Baudet has also attacked judges in several speeches.

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