Judges protest justice ministry court information inspection

Statue of Lady Justice outside Harju County Court on Liivalaia street in Tallinn.
Statue of Lady Justice outside Harju County Court on Liivalaia street in Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Judges in Estonia have complained about interference from the Ministry of Justice in relation to checks conducted on the court's information system by the ministry earlier this year.

The ministry conducted the investigation over summer, into whether, and to what extent, judges had access documents in the court information system regarding cases which they themselves are not presiding over.

However, judges consider this a violation of judicial independence, according to ERR's online news in Estonian, quoting daily Postimees.

The justices became aware of the inspection only earlier this month, prompting the Estonian Association of Judges (Eesti Kohtunike Ühing) to send a strongly-worded letter to Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa), setting out the legal basis and nature of the activities and noting that such checks can undermine judges' confidence and willingness to use information systems implemented by the ministry.

Judges warned that such controls would undermine judges' confidence in, and willingness to use, information systems implemented by the Ministry of Justice.

Raivo Aeg acknowledged the independence of the judiciary, noting at the same time that it was necessary to check that no judge used personal or confidential data irresponsibly.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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