Volodymyr Zelensky's judicial reform strategy embodies Pavlo Vovk's dreams of obedient justice

Читати українською.

On June 12, 2021, President Zelensky approved the Strategy for the Development of Judiciary and Constitutional Justice for 2021-2023 (Strategy).

In March, the DEJURE Foundation has already analyzed the draft Strategy. The signed decree does not differ from the draft version of the document and further strengthens the influence of judicial officials of low integrity, and its key provisions correspond to the ideas of the odious head of the District Administrative Court of Kyiv (DACK) Pavlo Vovk.

Among the problems to be addressed by judicial reform, the Strategy enshrines "excessively complex procedures for conducting a competition for a vacant position of a judge, as well as the procedure for passing the qualifying examination and the methodology for assessing judges and candidates for the position of a judge".

Symptomatically, this provision echoes the narrative of a staff shortage in the courts and the need to launch the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) without sufficient integrity checks procedures, repeatedly voiced by the infamous DACK judge Pavlo Vovk and members of the corrupt High Council of Justice (HCJ).

The only significant difference between the draft and the approved document is the lack of a provision that provided for the power of the corrupt High Council of Justice to approve budget requests for court funding. At the same time, the Strategy expands the list of the HCJ powers instead of cleansing it of members of low integrity.

In the text of the Strategy, there is a provision that “in the future” the HQCJ should be subordinated to the High Council of Justice, which contradicts the provision on the independence of the HQCJ.

“The text of the approved Strategy is very general. The provisions can be arbitrarily interpreted both in the direction of reforms and in the direction of preserving the status quo.

The document does not contain a clear plan or indicators that will measure the success or failure of the implementation of the Strategy. In addition, we can already say that a significant part of the provisions of the Strategy cannot be implemented by 2023,”

- says Stepan Berko, Advocacy Manager of the DEJURE Foundation

The full analysis of the draft Strategy by the DEJURE Foundation is available by the link.

A year has passed since Ukraine in a Memorandum with the IMF undertook to reform the High Council of Justice with the participation of international experts. However, the draft law 5068 introduced by the President is not able to effectively cleanse the HCJ.