On July 8, the President vetoed draft law № 3711-д on the reboot of the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ). The recommendations with which the text of the draft was returned to the Parliament corrected the conflict of provisions concerning the votes of international experts in the Selection Commission of the HQCJ. Thus, the President saved amendment № 453 in the text of the draft law. Amendment № 453 grants international experts a casting vote in the Selection Commission, which was called for by NGOs and international partners.
However, the President did not propose to minimize the impact of the corrupt and unreformed High Council of Justice (HCJ) on the composition of the HQCJ, as provided for in amendment № 197. Thus, in the presidential edition, the Selection Commission is to select 32 candidates for the HQCJ and the HCJ to appoint 16 candidates, 8 of whom must be current or retired judges.
At the same time, in another amendment, the President proposes that at least half of the minimum plenipotentiary composition of the HQCJ (11 members out of 16), i.e. 6 members out of 11, should be current or retired judges.
“Thus, in the new version of the draft law № 3711-д, the HCJ reserves the authority to appoint half of the candidates selected by the Selection Commission to the HQCJ. At the same time, the unreformed HCJ will try to appoint potentially loyal judges to the HQCJ out of 32 candidates, as well as to form an incomplete but plenipotentiary composition of 11 people, where the majority of votes will be held by such loyal judges.” - says Mykhailo Zhernakov, the Chair of the Board of the DEJURE Foundation.
“It is extremely important to change the procedure for cleansing the HCJ provided by the current version of the draft law № 5068. The draft law now stipulates that the opinion of the Ethics Council, which will check the integrity of the current and new members of the HCJ, is advisory, and only the appointment bodies can dismiss them - i.e. Congresses of judges, lawyers, law schools, and the Conference of Prosecutors. Thus, draft law № 5068 poses a risk that these appointments could easily leave the HCJ members of low integrity in office. The amendment № 730 can resolve this issue, so its adoption, without exaggeration, is vital if we want real judicial reform, not another imitation of it” - says Iryna Shyba, Executive Director of the DEJURE Foundation.
Earlier, the DEJURE Foundation reported that without amendments № 730 and № 719, the draft law № 5068 would not reform the High Council of Justice.