The DEJURE Foundation, the Anti-Corruption Action Center, Automaidan and the Center of Policy and Legal Reform call on the Verkhovna Rada to amend the legislation to resume the work of the High Council of Justice (the HCJ) in accordance with the Constitution and judicial reform initiated by the President of Ukraine. This reform is one of the main indicators of Ukraine's readiness to integrate with the European Union.
In conditions of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which will last indefinitely, the judicial system of Ukraine should resume the procedures for dismissal and removal of judges, as well as ensure the inevitable punishment of those judges who sided with the enemy. To this end, the work of the HCJ, which is currently invalid, should be resumed.
As it is difficult to hold full-fledged competitions for the HCJ under martial law, it is possible to use the optimal model - to complete competitions for positions in the High Council of Justice, which began in 2021. Within the framework of these competitions, the Ethics Council conducted a preliminary evaluation of 33 candidates and has already conducted a number of interviews with them. Thus, in order to fill vacancies in the HCJ, it is necessary to resume conducting interviews by the Ethics Council with candidates online. Further, the Ethics Council may recommend nominating 10 or more candidates out of 33 to the appointing bodies - the President, the Verkhovna Rada and the Congresses of Judges, Lawyers, Legal Scholars, Prosecutors. The appointment of exactly 10 candidates to the positions of members of the High Council of Justice will make the body competent and unblock the procedures for dismissal, removal of judges and consideration of disciplinary complaints. To implement this scenario, the law needs to be amended to allow the appointment bodies to appoint all candidates recommended by the Ethics Council to all available vacancies during the martial law. This procedure is fully in line with the Constitution of Ukraine and the purpose of judicial reform: the HCJ will consist of only decent candidates recommended by the Ethics Council.
At the same time, NGOs call for refraining from rebooting the HCJ in an unconstitutional way, as any further decisions - dismissal or transfer of judges, disciplinary sanctions, etc. - will be declared unconstitutional and repealed in the future. In addition, the appointment of the HCJ members not recommended by the Ethics Council will mean the failure of the judicial reform initiated by President Zelensky, which is important for Ukraine's successful European integration.