On 22 June, President Zelensky introduced the draft law #3711 in the Parliament with a declared aim to restart the judicial reform and align it with a decision of the Constitutional Court. The latter, in March, cancelled main provisions of the previous legislative initiative of the President in the judiciary.
The draft law #3711 contradicts the idea of judicial reform as it not only fails to ensure the cleansing of the judiciary but also conserves and even enhances the influence of the untrustworthy judges. This legislative initiative of the President does not comply either with his political campaign promises or the course of his political force or the international obligations of Ukraine before the IMF and endangers further financial support of the IMF to Ukraine.
The draft law proposes to grant the High Council of Justice(HCJ) with the following:
- Full control over the competition to the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ). The HCJ will be able to limit the role of international experts and introduce into the HQCJ composition members, dependent to the infamous Head of the notorious District Administrative Court of Kyiv Pavlo Vovk;
- Possibility to pressure the HQCJ. The HCJ will be able to suspend HQCJ members for a termless period;
- Full control over the selection and qualification assessment of all judges. The HCJ will approve all the methodology and assessment of judges;
- Possibility to influence the judges of the Supreme Court, who will be transferred from the old Supreme Court of Ukraine. The “peculiarities” of the qualification assessment of these judges will be established by the HCJ.
At the same time, the draft law complicates the procedure of HCJ member’s dismissal. The decision on the dismissal can be initiated by 2/3 of its composition and approved by the body, which appointed this member.
According to the Memorandum of the IMF, the Ukrainian Government must establish a new procedure for selecting HCJ members with mandatory integrity checks of all candidates, conducted by an independent commission with international experts in its composition. However, the draft law does not provide the establishment of this procedure. Furthermore, the draft law does not envisage the integrity checks of the current HCJ members as implied by the IMF memorandum as well.
The adoption of the draft law #3711 even in the first reading will send a negative signal regarding the judicial reform both for the civil society and our international partners.
Civil society organizations call on the Parliament:
- Not to adopt the draft law #3711 in the first reading until it is improved with the participation of civic and international experts.
- During further work on the draft law a procedure of cleansing the HCJ from untrustworthy members as well as the new procedure for selecting the HCJ members with the participation of civil society and international experts should be established.
We believe that only these changes will help to reach the aim of judicial reform.
Anticorruption Action Center