NGOs’ Statement: Judicial system needs real cleansing, not populism

Читати українською.

As representatives of NGOs dedicated to advocating for a fair judiciary in Ukraine over the years, we emphasise the importance of cleansing the judicial system through legitimate means, eschewing any excessive populism.

The corruption scandal within the Supreme Court, which deeply impacted society in the spring, clearly highlights the necessity for immediate inspections and cleansing of the judicial system, particularly the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, the current initiatives being endorsed by political authorities (especially the President's Office and the National Security and Defense Council) jeopardise the judiciary's independence and are largely driven by populist motives.

We refer to draft law No. 9454, "On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine "On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges", regarding the introduction of additional procedures to strengthen public trust in the judiciary."

In particular, the draft law puts forward a new procedure for vetting judges known as court monitoring. As part of such a procedure, a polygraph will be used. However, utilising a polygraph in this process raises concerns as it appears to be more susceptible to manipulation than effectively identifying judges of low integrity.

Moreover, the proposed procedure overlooks the capacity and workload of both disciplinary and anti-corruption bodies, making it more populist in nature and less likely to achieve a genuine cleansing of the judiciary.

Instead, representatives of NGOs have consistently advocated for alternative models that would enable vetting and expelling judges with low integrity within a more reasonable timeframe. For instance, one suggested approach involves the HQCJ evaluating judges based on information provided by the Public Integrity Council in accordance with the recommendations made by the Venice Commission in 2019.

Based on the concerns raised above, we urge the representatives of the President's Office and MPs of the Verkhovna Rada to take the following actions:

  1. to abstain from promoting initiatives that jeopardise the independence of the judicial system or are unrealistic and driven by populism;
  2. to support a model that will allow a thorough and transparent cleansing of the Supreme Court;
  3. to reinstate the disciplinary function of the High Council of Justice and make necessary amendments to the law to ensure a transparent competition process for the Service of Disciplinary Inspectors.

DEJURE Foundation
Anti-Corruption Action Centre