The current judicial elites are using all available tools to thwart judicial reform. Initially, the Council of Judges blocked the formation of the Ethics Council, and now the Supreme Court sent a constitutional submission to the Constitutional Court to declare the reform unconstitutional. We call on the President and Parliament to immediately initiate and adopt legislative changes that will create an Ethics Council as soon as possible.
This summer Ukrainians got a real chance for qualitative changes in the judiciary. Verkhovna Rada adopted the laws on the reform of the two key judicial governance bodies - the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges. However, the implementation of the reform stopped at the beginning - the Council of Judges refused to comply with the law and did not delegate three representatives to the Ethics Council, which will reform the High Council of Justice.
Despite repeated public promises to delegate representatives to the Ethics Council, the Council of Judges continues to sabotage the reform. The Council of Judges first failed to vote for candidates who indicated their intention to participate in the Ethics Council and then devised a lengthy selection procedure with excessive requirements for candidates, which can take months. Representatives of the Council of Judges have even resorted to public blackmail, promising to speed up in exchange for changes to the law that eliminate the role of independent experts in the Ethics Council.
We are convinced that such actions of the Council of Judges have a single goal - to delay the formation of the Ethics Council as long as possible in order to gain time for the Constitutional Court. Given the inclination of the current composition of the Constitutional Court to destroy anti-corruption legislation, there is a high risk of a similar decision regarding the reform of the High Council of Justice.
That is why we call on the President and Parliament to immediately submit and consider the draft law to unblock the formation of the Ethics Council, which will remove the Council of Judges from this process. The role of the Council of Judges should be transferred to another entity, such as the Minister of Justice, as the Council of Judges has refused to comply with the law in a timely manner and to exercise its powers.
In our opinion, this is the only step that can unblock the implementation of judicial reform and guarantee the fulfilment of the government's obligations to the people and international partners.
Also, given the threat to reform from the current Constitutional Court, we continue to insist on the urgent need for a transparent selection of judges of the Constitutional Court by an independent commission and call on MPs to support the relevant amendments to the draft law № 4533 on the constitutional procedure.
Center for Political and Legal Reforms