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Judges 'have integrity'

There's no need to worry about the role of judges in the selection of senators and members of independent organisations as provided for under the draft constitution, Supreme Administrative Court president Ackaratorn Chularat told the media yesterday.

Published on August 7, 2007

In a move to calm concerns that the judiciary could be politicised if top judges played a role responsible for the selection of half the Senate members, Chularat said that judges are honest and have integrity.

"Whether we will be [successfully] lobbied [by various interest groups] or not is up to our conscience and soul as judges. We have been cultivating [our integrity]," Ackaratorn explained. "We don't know if it [the new idea] will bring good results or not, but if we're mandated by the constitution then we will have to do our best."

Asked if the judiciary would lose its impartiality or balance, Ackaratorn quickly replied: "It won't be that bad."

Not all are convinced, however. At a symposium yesterday organised by the September 19 Network Against Coup d'Etat, former senator and NGO leader Jon Ungpakorn warned of the negative repercussions of giving judges political tasks.

"What will happen is that the judges will be bought," he said.

Senators ought to be elected by the people, he said.

"It reflects a mistrust of the people. What will follow is hidden deals which will open the way for powerful people to secure seats [in the upper House]."

Ackaratorn said that though judges are not elected by the people, the top judges have to be approved by the Senate before they are appointed, and as such indirectly represented the will of the people.

But when asked how there could be checks and balances when half of the Senate, which will scrutinise the appointment of top judges, is appointed by judges to begin with, Ackaratorn answered: "We must trust and see if they're honest or not."

Pravit Rojanaphruk

The Nation

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