The Italian government approved a key reform to the country’s much-criticised justice system. The move will make it impossible for magistrates to jump directly from judicial careers to politics and back again.
The European Union imposed a number of requirements on Italy in order that it may receive billions of euros in pandemic recovery funds. Among them was reforms to the country’s justice system.
There have been a number of pushes over the years to reform the rules for magistrates. Most notable among them was Silvio Berlusconi, the former centre-right prime minister. He contended that left-leaning prosecutors had targeted him and his media empire to damage him politically.
At a Cabinet meeting on Friday, the government decided on various measures to limit magistrates’ switching back and forth between their justice roles and politics, both on national and local levels.
Parliament must now take up the reforms to convert them into the law of the land.
What does government reform entail?
Under the measures, magistrates who run for elected office can’t do so in the regions where they either served as judges or prosecutors in the previous three years.
If elected after their political post ends, they won’t be able to serve in any judicial capacity. The Justice Ministry would assign them to administrative roles.
For those magistrates who run for political office but fail to be elected, three years must pass before they can again carry out judicial duties.
The aim of the is to end the practice of “revolving door magistrates who take on a political post,” Justice Minister Marta Cartabia told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.
The former head of Italy’s Constitutional Court herself, Cartabia is now serving in the Cabinet in a non-political role. “We owe it to the citizens who have the right to regain full trust in our magistrate system,” Cartabia said.
Italy’s often slow-moving justice system is viewed as a discouragement for investors and entrepreneurs from doing business in Italy.
“In general, predictable, sure justice in rapid time favours foreign investment,” prime minister Draghi said. But a more complete overhaul of Italy’s justice system still “is a long road,” he said.