Leading NGOs urge the HCJ members to launch a judicial cleansing process and resign

Читати українською.

DEJURE Foundation, AntAC and Automaidan are urging members of the High Council of Justice, who have said they are blocked, not to waste taxpayers' money and resign as soon as possible, but not before taking the necessary action to implement judicial reform laws.

The High Council of Justice is a body of the judiciary that has long discredited itself in the eyes of Ukrainian society. For years, the HCJ members covered up suspects in the seizure of state power, Pavlo Vovk, and other DACK judges, refusing to consider disciplinary complaints against them. Instead, the HCJ systematically put pressure on judges who showed their independence by exposing corruption (including in the judiciary). This was most evident during the competition for the High Anti-Corruption Court, when the HCJ reprimanded Judge Larysa Holnyk for posting on Facebook, depriving the judge of the opportunity to participate in the competition for the High Anti-Corruption Court. That is why full-fledged reform of the HCJ is a priority condition of judicial reform, provided, in particular, by the law №1635-IX (the draft law № 5068 in the past).

The adopted draft law on the reform of the HCJ changed the procedure of disciplinary proceedings, introducing the institute of disciplinary inspectors. As the draft law did not provide for any transition period, this effectively stopped the HCJ members from considering disciplinary complaints until the formation of the disciplinary inspectors' service. Unfortunately, the parliamentary Legal Committee, headed by Andriy Kostin, systematically barred public experts from working on the draft law on the HCJ reform, and the very secrecy and backstage of rule-making led to technical and legal gaps in the text of the law. We emphasize that the amendment № 733 to the law on the HCJ reform № 1635-IX authored by MP Anastasia Radina did not affect the suspension of consideration of the HCJ of disciplinary proceedings. The amendment deprived the unreformed, corrupt HCJ of the opportunity to select new disciplinary inspectors. Without this amendment, the consideration of the unreformed HCJ of disciplinary cases would still have been terminated.

Given that the HCJ systematically applies double standards in disciplinary proceedings, does not punish violating judges, we believe that postponing the consideration of disciplinary complaints against judges until the election of a new HCJ is not critical. Once the corrupt HCJ is reformed, the chances of a just punishment of judges of low integrity in disciplinary proceedings will increase significantly.

As the HCJ declares the blocking of its work, we urge the HCJ members to comply with the requirements of Law №1635-IX, necessary for the formation of the Ethics Council and the Selection Commission to the HCCJ, and to resign. With this step, the HCJ members will accelerate the reform of the judiciary and prevent the "collapse of the judicial system" by which they frighten society.

We emphasize that the speed of resumption of disciplinary complaints consideration in regard to judges directly depends on the speed of the HCJ reform, so any delay in the stages of the competition by the HCJ will mean a deliberate delay by the HCJ members with penalties for judges of low integrity.