The Venice Commission supported the decisive vote of international experts in the reform of the HCJ

This is stated in the opinion of the Venice Commission on the presidential draft law №5068 on the reform of the High Council of Justice, published on May 5.

The draft law provides for the creation of the Ethics Council - a body authorized to conduct a one-time assessment of current members of the HCJ and check the integrity of future candidates. The Ethics Council will include three current or former judges nominated by the Council of Judges, as well as three international experts with an impeccable reputation, nominated by international organizations.

Experts of the DEJURE Foundation have repeatedly called on the MPs to grant international experts a decisive vote in the Ethics Council. Otherwise, the judges will block both the dismissal of the HCJ members of low integrity and the selection of decent candidates.

In its opinion, the Venice Commission recommended that the Verkhovna Rada give a decisive vote to international experts.

The Commission proposes to apply an approach according to which a decision voted for by at least four members of the Ethics Council, two of whom are international experts, will be adopted. If the votes of the members of the Ethics Council are divided equally (2 by 2 or 3 by 3), the Council should hold an additional discussion and then vote again. If the votes are again split in half, the decision voted for by at least two international experts will be adopted.

“We welcome the decision of the Venice Commission to support the decisive vote of international experts in the selection of the HCJ members. This gives more chances that the long-awaited process of cleansing the judiciary will finally break the deadlock. In addition, the draft law now stipulates that the HCJ members of low integrity can only be dismissed by the appointing bodies: Congresses of judges, lawyers, prosecutors or academics, the Parliament, and the President. The Ethics Council must be able to do this on its own, otherwise, most HCJ members of low integrity will never be dismissed.”

- says Stepan Berko, Advocacy Manager of the DEJURE Foundation