Members of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly elected Kevin Murphy as Speaker of the House of Assembly today, Oct. 24, during the special sitting of the assembly. Before being elected to the legislature, Mr. Murphy was a business owner and operator for three decades on the Eastern Shore. The members also elected Margaret Miller, MLA for Hants East, to be Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. Ms. Miller was a business owner and national president of MADDCanada before being elected to the legislature. The Speaker of the House presides over the Legislative Assembly, maintaining order, and regulating debate in accordance with the House rules and practices. The Speaker decides questions of order, rules on questions, ensures that all viewpoints are heard, protects the rights of all members, and casts the deciding vote in the event of a tie.
Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said the legislation – which passed by El Salvador’s national assembly and was promulgated by the executive – could be considered “an affront to the principles of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary, fundamental elements of any democracy and any rule of law.”“El Salvador, as a country that is consolidating its democracy, should pay particular attention to the full independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers enshrined in international instruments of which it is a party and which are enshrined in the Salvadoran constitution,” said Ms. Knaul.“The other branches of government can not force the country’s highest court to take judicial decisions unanimously, as the matters that fall within its competence are, by their very nature and complexity, controversial.”Ms. Knaul said the law, if followed, “would block the activity and the effective functioning of the country’s highest court and therefore substantially limit the rights of Salvadorian citizens to appeal to that court in defence of their fundamental rights.”The Special Rapporteur urged El Salvador’s Government to repeal the law to prevent the justice system from falling into paralysis.Ms. Knaul serves in an independent and unpaid capacity and reports to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. 1 July 2011A United Nations human rights expert warned today that a newly passed Salvadorian law requiring the country’s Supreme Court decisions to be unanimous could undermine the independence of the judiciary.