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The Ministry of justice – ITALY
Two articles of the Italian Constitution define the important functions of the Minister of Justice: the organization and functioning of services necessary for the exercise of judicial power (Article 110) and the exercise of disciplinary action against Magistrates (s.107). Section 110 of the Italian Constitution provides for „the organization and operation of inherent justice services under the Ministry of Justice.“ But the High Council of the Judiciary has jurisdiction regarding „recruitment, destinations and transfers, promotions and disciplinary measures against judges“(Article 105).
This division of responsibilities between the Ministry and the High Council of the Judiciary stems from the need to guarantee the independence and impartiality of judges, since „the Judiciary constitutes an autonomous and independent branch of government not subject to any other“ (Article 104).
The Ministry organizes all the practicalities necessary to the exercise of legal action (rooms, furniture, appliances, cars, etc.), the recruitment and management of staff (secretarial staff and the office of the court of the prison police, drivers, etc.), and the performance of certain tasks for the judiciary staff (organization of competitions for the recruitment of judges, management of remuneration and pensions, etc.).
The Minister of Justice, as a member of the Government, is responsible within the Council of Ministers and the Parliament for the correct functioning of the administration of justice in the country, as part of its intervention powers under the Constitution. With respect to the judiciary, the Constitution gives the Minister specific functions not covered by the High Council, of which we must mention the power to initiate disciplinary action against judges (Article 107, paragraph 2).
The exercise of this function, shared between the Minister and the Prosecutor General of the Court of Cassation, often results from ad hoc surveys concerning the judicial offices, led by a General Inspectorate under the control of the Ministry. Disciplinary measures, as we have already pointed out, fall within the mandate of the High Judicial Council, chaired by the President of the Republic.
In fulfilling its mandate, the Minister of Justice shall exercise the following activities:
- Activities in the legislative and regulatory field: the Minister, as well as the heads of other Ministries, has a power of legislative initiative, and can also develop ancillary provisions or administrative acts of a general nature (regulations, circulars);
- Activities concerning the operation of the services and structures: the Minister has different competences to:
- act directly on the functioning of judicial activity (for example, creating or removing judiciary, the adoption of measures to anticipate or defer mutations of magistrates);
- monitor and ensure the proper functioning of justice (in addition to disciplinary initiative, we must remember the oversight function corresponding to the Minister’s powers of investigation or resulting from requests submitted to the Presidents of the Courts, as well as information activities on the functioning of justice, and service with respect to the activity of magistrates). The Minister participates in the selection and the awarding of charge director in agreement with the High Council of the Judiciary;
- Activities in criminal matters: the Minister has competences with regard to the procedures relating to requests for pardon, letters rogatory, extraditions, recognition of foreign judgments, and prosecution requests in cases of criminal offenses committed outside the territory of the Republic that can be prosecuted in Italy. To this list must be added important prerogatives on prisons, such as those concerning the treatment of prisoners and internees;
- Activities in the civil field: besides the allocations for the operation of many industry services, we must remember the supervisory powers in respect of the notaries and other professional bodies.
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