Sakellaropoulou: Judges Must Find Balance between Protecting Individual Freedoms and Public Goods

September 29, 2020

ATHENS — President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou referred to the issue of striking a balance between individual freedoms and the public interest, such as in the prοtection of public health, in statements after receiving the representatives of the International Association of Supreme Administrative Jurisdictions (IASAJ), accompanied by a delegation from the Council of State. The meeting was held on Monday.

"For many months now, the measures taken have been asking administrative judges like you, and me for 38 years, very sensitive questions about the issue of the balance between individual freedoms and the public interest, in the form of the protection of public health," she said and added: "What restrictions on individual freedoms can we tolerate without undermining their core? To what extent can financial freedom be restricted in order to protect public health, without the ensuing recession bringing society to its knees? Once again, the legal instrument of the principle of proportionality in the hands of administrative justice, in your own hands, can provide answers."

She noted that the supreme courts of the countries that are members of the IASAJ shape a case law that mainly concern temporary measures. "Looking at some of the court decisions related to this issue, we clearly see the concern – the anxiousness I would say – of the administrative judge to succeed, once again in a situation unprecedented for our generation, in finding the right balance between the protection of individual rights and freedoms and the guarantee of public goods, in this case public health."

Referring to the ethics of judges, Sakellaropoulou pointed out that they must be independent and impartial. "The stake for a judge is to remain independent, to maintain his impartiality, regardless of his personal, political, philosophical and religious views," she said, adding that constant internal effort is required in order to win this bet.



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