Former minister  slams justice system.jpg

Former minister  slams justice system

Sociologist and Parliamentary Deputy Dr António Barreto severely criticised judges, magistrates and state prosecutors for “becoming media figures”.

Addressing the American Club in Lisbon last week, the former minister and author said that never had the public’s respect and opinion of legal figures fallen so low in the past 100 years.

“It seems that, every day, judges, magistrates and prosecutors give their opinions on television which is simply not acceptable,” he said.

Thirty years ago, judges had been considered the most respected figures in society, ahead of teachers and doctors.

“Now they were at the bottom of the list along with the nation’s politicians,” he said.

“They should be wiser than us, more knowledgeable than us, above us, better than us,” he said, alluding to their tarnished image in Portuguese society.

Dr António Barreto called the recent spate of scandals involving the media, political figures and judicial commentaries “a festival of nonsense and indignities”.

He also questioned arguments that Portugal needed to get back to basics with agriculture and ‘plant potatoes’ in the words of one eminent former minister, saying that Portugal’s climate, lack of consistent rainfall and hot, dry summers made it difficult for her to be productive in terms  of agriculture compared with central European countries.

The sociologist and academic also slammed talk of reforms when reforms were badly carried out, and while acknowledging that Portugal had begun to catch up with many countries and developed with astonishing speed since the Revolution in 1974, he said that her ideological and outdated institutions and closed shop mentality meant that more flexible countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Ireland and Spain were already streets ahead of Portugal.

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