Academic Lawyers’ Association: the National Assembly amending the constitution would be the same as Croatia not abiding by the arbitration agreement

Foto: STA

The Academic Lawyers’ Association has commented on the intention of the left-wing coalition to change the constitution in connection to the equal financing of private and public elementary education. Their expert evaluation is that in Slovenia all children without exception should be able to exercise their right to free elementary education. The role of the National Assembly of Slovenia is to ensure this right by amending the Organization and Financing of Education Act and thereby eliminate the unconstitutional differences between parents and children in public and private elementary schools.

The Academic Lawyers’ Association is critical towards the governing authorities, since the National Assembly should have fulfilled their task immediately, but instead they have been postponing the implementation of the decision for more than three years. With the intention to completely circumvent their constitutional duty, two thirds of deputies have voted for a procedure to amend Article 57 of the constitution.

All parents pay taxes equally
The association claims that if Article 57 of the constitution is amended, instead of eliminating the two categories of parents and children, there will be a further increase in the differences amongst those Slovenians that benefit from free compulsory education and those that pay for it themselves and are also obliged to finance it for others through taxes. This would be a blatant discrimination with regards to the human right to free elementary education. They assess that this type of solution is in opposition to the principle of equality before the law.

The principle of equality before the law is an essential manifestation of the respect for human dignity, which is a fundamental value in the constitutional order of the Republic of Slovenia and lies at the very core of the constitutional structure. The National Assembly is not entitled to interfere with the aforementioned core of the constitutional structure, not even through the legal form of constitutional law, for in the Slovenian constitutional order this belongs on the “supra-constitutional” level. This applies in particular to this case, as the proposed constitutional law on amending Article 57 of the constitution would be passed with the exclusive and obvious purpose of circumventing the decision of the Slovenian constitutional court, which represents an abuse of the legal form of the constitutional law.

For Slovenia, this would be equivalent to Croatia disrespecting the arbitration agreement
The academic association also believes that in this case the behaviour of the National Assembly is comparable to the position of the Croatian parliament, agreed on by all its members, that they are not bound by the arbitration agreement concerning the border between Slovenia and Croatia or the judgement of the arbitral tribunal on the border and that only God is above the parliament. The same approach of the National Assembly in the case of adopting the amendment to the constitution would, according to their view, shed light on the incredible hypocrisy of the Slovenian authorities with regards to respecting the values of the rule of law, which could harm the international reputation of Slovenia and negatively impact the international community’s support of the efforts to bring international agreements into effect.

Same voting mechanism can crush any other right
“The planned amendment of Article 57 of the constitution is by itself unconstitutional and immoral – it means disrespecting the decision of the court and represents an infringement of international treaties,” explain the lawyers. According to them, if the planned amendment is passed, the matter will certainly be subject to an analysis by the constitutional court and finally also the European court for human rights, which is why they call on the deputies of the National Assembly who supported the procedure for amending the constitution, to show at least a minimum of legal and democratic behaviour and not carry out their intention.

“If it is possible to circumvent the decision of the constitutional court with a simple voting manoeuvre, then Slovenia has no separation of powers, no system of checks and balances, and no constitutional democracy. This is our timely warning to the Slovenian public: The same voting mechanism can also crush any other right granted by the constitution,” the Academic Lawyers’ Association wrote.

C. Š.