Today, on December 20, President Zelensky signed the law on changing the procedure for selecting judges of the CCU (draft law № 7662), adopted by the Verkhovna Rada last week.
This happened immediately after the Venice Commission published an updated opinion on the procedure for selecting judges of the CCU yesterday, on December 19. The Venice Commission emphasised in its updated opinion, in particular, that it is necessary to include the seventh member under the international quota in the Advisory Group of Experts, which will check candidates for the position of the CCU judge.
The adopted law envisages only six members of the AGE - three independent experts under the international quota and three Ukrainian political appointees, without whom no decision can be made. The seventh independent expert could level political influence on the AGE. That is why NGOs called on the President to veto the law.
Also, the Venice Commission emphasised that candidates for the CCU, which the AGE determined as "not meeting the requirements", should be excluded from the further selection process and should not be appointed. But currently, the law allows the appointment of such candidates. This contradicts the very essence of the entire competition. A situation is possible when the AGE determines the candidate as not meeting the requirements, but the Verkhovna Rada or the Congress of Judges will still be able to appoint them.
In its current version, the law on the "reform" of the CCU does not take into account the recommendations of the Venice Commission and the calls of civil society. It also threatens democracy and European integration.
The President’s Office already controls five judges of the CCU. Soon three appointments under the Parliament’s quota, where the Servant of the People party has a monomajority, and two appointments under the quota of the Congress of Judges will take place.
If these appointments take place under the adopted and signed law, which does not ensure independent selection, as early as in spring, the political authorities will fully control the Constitutional Court. This is a direct threat to democracy in Ukraine.
The newly adopted law also violates Ukraine's international obligations. The reform of the CCU is #1 among the seven priorities related to obtaining the EU candidate status and opening accession negotiations. The decision of the European Council to grant Ukraine candidate status clearly states that the reform must take place in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, which the law signed by the President ignores.
Therefore, the implementation of this law in the current version threatens the rule of law, democracy and European integration of Ukraine.
Thus, we call on:
- the Venice Commission and other international partners not to delegate experts to the Advisory Group of Experts until amendments to the law that correspond to the recommendations of the Venice Commission are introduced;
- the MPs to immediately introduce amendments to the adopted law to align it with the Venice Commission's recommendations; first of all, to include the seventh member delegated by Ukraine's international partners in the Advisory Group of Experts.
Anti-Corruption Action Centre
Transparency International Ukraine
Anti-corruption Research and Educational Center