The Parliament adopted the draft law that destroys the Public Integrity Council. Amendments are needed before the second reading

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Today, the MPs adopted the draft law in the first reading. In its current form, it effectively dismantles public oversight over the selection and evaluation of judges. DEJURE Foundation issued a warning yesterday regarding the threats associated with draft law No. 10140-д.

"If this version of the draft law is further adopted, fulfilling Maidan's call for judiciary renewal will become unattainable. It appears that many MPs voted in favour today due to the linkage of macro-financial assistance from the EU to the adoption of this law. However, I am skeptical that such a version of the draft law will lead to any aid or contribute to progress toward the EU. The EU report explicitly outlines the task for the upcoming year as the selection and evaluation of approximately four thousand judges with active involvement of the PIC, not the sabotage of this process",

— explains the Chair of the Board of DEJURE Foundation, Mykhailo Zhernakov.

The primary threats posed by the draft law are as follows:

  • The High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) gains the authority to terminate the powers of Public Integrity Council (PIC) members. If an individual member's stance does not align with the "required" position, they can be easily removed.
  • The PIC is stripped of its ability to provide value judgments in its decisions. The evaluation of a moral and ethical category such as "integrity" becomes unclear without this capability.
  • PIC members are prohibited from publicly assessing judges and defending their opinions.
  • The draft law elevates the importance of professional competence, diminishing the weight of integrity in the assessment of judges and candidates.
  • The proposal suggests completing competitions for over fifty judge positions initiated by the previous HQCJ under the old rules. Notably, this is the same HQCJ that failed to reform the judiciary, dismissing less than one percent of the nearly three thousand judges it "vetted" by 2019.
  • Furthermore, MPs propose giving priority to assistant judges over lawyers and scientists who have not worked in the court in competitions for judicial vacancies. At the very least, such a rule is discriminatory and illogical in a situation where the judicial corps requires fresh perspectives from outside the judicial system.

It is imperative to amend these provisions of the draft law before the second reading. Failure to do so may result in the replacement of public control over qualification assessment and selection with a more easily manipulated PIC of the next composition.