As a follow up to the first petition to the Constitutional Court filed by the Ombudsman on January 23, 2013, the Ombudsman on March 15, 2013 submitted additional sections of the Penal Code approved by Parliament in May 2012 for Constitutional review. The sections of the Penal Code presented to the Constitutional Court for review include articles pertaining to parole for prisoners with a life sentence, probation, early release as a result of overcrowded prison cells and prostitution.
Because of the extremely limited time, which was available to the Ombudsmanto study the law, the Court was requested to allow the Ombudsman the opportunity to expand on the request, and elaborate on the arguments presented in writing as provided for by the National Ordinance of the Constitutional Court. This request was granted, giving the Ombudsman the opportunity to address additional issues of concern.
Guardian of the Constitution
The Ombudsman as “Guardian of the Constitution” is charged with presenting a law approved by Parliament, and ratified by government, within 6 weeks of ratification to the Constitutional Court for (part) annulment, if deemed in contravention with the Constitution. It is however important to note that the charge to address the Constitutional Court is contravention with the Constitution; any discussion on moral issues should be held against the rights protected by the Constitution.
The policy of the Ombudsman in presenting a law to the Constitutional Court for review is that there should be a legitimate possibilitythat the law contravenes the Constitution, notwithstanding the Ombudsman’s personal opinion on an issue. As such it is not necessary for the Ombudsman to be totally convinced that a law contravenes the Constitution, but sound legal arguments are sufficient to address the Court. The Ombudsman is of the opinion that this is a way to give the citizens a voice, and a more democratic way to fulfill the Ombudsman’s roles as Protector of the rights of the people and the Guardian of the Constitution. It is not a matter of “win or lose” as in a regular Civil Court, but it is a matter of guarding the integrity of the Constitution on behalf of the citizens of the country.
In the first part of the petition filed by the Ombudsman for constitutional review some legal technical issues pertaining to procedures followed or not followed by government were addressed, and the annulment of art. 2:335 sub 3, art. 3:54 and art.2:289 sub e. requested. Mentioned articles relate to respectively maltreatment/cruelty against animals and crimes committed against a tourist visiting the island for recreational purposes.