Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (2010) (excerpts)

CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF CROATIA

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4. JUDICIAL POWER

Article 118

Judicial power shall be exercised by the courts. Judicial power shall be autonomous and independent. Courts shall administer justice according to the Constitution, law, international treaties and other valid sources of law.

Article 119

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia, as the highest court of law, shall ensure uniform application of laws and equality of all before the law. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia shall be appointed and dismissed by the Croatian Parliament at the proposal of the President of the Republic, following a prior opinion of the general session of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia and of the competent committee of the Croatian Parliament. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia shall be appointed for a term of four years. The establishment, jurisdiction, composition and organization of courts and court proceedings shall be regulated by law.

Article 120

Court hearings shall be open to the public and judgments shall be pronounced publicly in the name of the Republic of Croatia.

The public may be barred from proceedings or part thereof for reasons necessary in a democratic society in the interest of morals, public order or national security, in particular if minors are tried, or in order to protect the private lives of the parties, or in marital disputes and proceedings connected with custody and adoption, or for the purpose of protection of military, official or trade secrets and for the protection of the security and defence of the Republic of Croatia, but only to the extent which is, in the opinion of the court, absolutely necessary in the specific circumstances where publicity may harm the interests of justice.

Article 121

Judicial duty shall be vested in judges personally. Lay magistrates and court advisors shall participate in court proceedings in compliance with law.

Article 122

Judges shall enjoy immunity in accordance with law.

Judges and lay magistrates who participate in court proceedings may not be held to account for an opinion or a vote given in the process of judicial decision-making unless there exists a violation of law on the part of a judge which constitutes a criminal offence.

A judge may not be remanded in custody or investigative detention in connection with any criminal prosecution initiated for a criminal offence perpetrated in the performance of his/her judicial duty without the prior consent of the National Judicial Council.

Article 123

Judges shall have life tenure.

A judge shall be relieved of office:

– at his/her own request,

– if permanently incapacitated from performance of duties,

– if sentenced for a criminal offence making him/her unworthy of holding judicial office,

– if, in conformity with law, the National Judicial Council so decides due to the perpetration of grave infringement of discipline,

– when reaching seventy years of age.

A judge shall have the right to lodge an appeal against a decision relieving him/her of judicial duty with the Constitutional Court within 15 days after the date on which the decision has been served. The Constitutional Court shall rule on the appeal applying such procedure and being of such composition as determined by the Constitutional Act on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia.

A judge shall have the right to lodge an appeal against a decision by the National Judicial Council on disciplinary accountability with the Constitutional Court within 15 days after the date on which the decision has been served. The Constitutional Court shall decide on the appeal in the manner and by applying the procedure as determined by the Constitutional Act on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia.

In the cases specified in paragraphs (4) and (5) of this Article, the Constitutional Court shall rule within no more than 30 days from the day the appeal has been lodged. Such ruling of the Constitutional Court shall exclude the right to a constitutional petition.

A judge shall not be transferred against his/her will except in cases when the court is abolished or reorganized in compliance with law.

A judge shall not hold an office or perform work defined by law as being incompatible with his/her judicial office.

Article 124

The National Judicial Council is an autonomous and independent body that ensures the autonomy and independence of the judicial branch in the Republic of Croatia.

The National Judicial Council shall autonomously decide, in conformity with the Constitution and law, on the appointment, promotion, transfer, dismissal and disciplinary accountability of judges and presiding judges, except in the case of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Croatia.

The decisions specified in paragraph (2) of this Article shall be made by the Council in an impartial manner on the basis of the criteria set forth by law.

The National Judicial Council shall participate in the training and development of judges and other judicial personnel.

The National Judicial Council shall consist of eleven members, of whom seven shall be judges, two university professors of law and two members of Parliament, one of whom shall be from ranks of the opposition.

The members of the National Judicial Council shall elect a chair from their ranks.

The presidents of courts may not be elected to the National Judicial Council.

The members of the National Judicial Council shall be elected for a four-year term. No one may serve as member of the National Judicial Council for more than two terms of office.

The purview, organisation, manner of election and mode of operation of the National Judicial Council shall be regulated by law.

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