The Parliament restarted judicial reform in Ukraine
Yesterday the Parliament adopted a long-anticipated draft law #1008 on judicial governance bodies. However, the draft law was adopted not without some unforeseen circumstances.
While considering the amendments to the draft law, the MPs from Sluha narodu faction first challenged the amendment #195 and then failed to support it. The amendment was initially introduced by the First Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Mr. Stefanchuk and then approved by the legal committee. The amendment suggested that the decisions of the Ethics Commission could be overruled only by the joint meeting of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) and the Ethics Commission. This provision was one of the key demands of the civil society organizations.

Fortunately, after a short meeting of the legal committee, the amendment #195 was approved by the Parliament. This happened not without a strong effort from the side of civil society organizations and several MPs from the Sluha narodu faction.

As a reminder, here is a list of revolutionary provisions of the draft law #1008 and things that still pose a threat to the independence of judges and judicial reform.

Positive provisions:
  1. The High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ), which is responsible for judicial reform failure, will be fully relaunched;
  2. New members of the HQCJ will be appointed as a result of an open competition, held by the Competition Commission. Three out of six members of the Competition Commission will be the international experts. This model should ensure that the next composition of the HQCJ will restore public trust in this body;
  3. An Ethics Commission as a subsidiary body of the HCJ will be established. The Ethics Commission will initiate the dismissal of the HCJ and the HQCJ members on the grounds of lack of integrity and it will be a disciplinary body for the Supreme Court judges. Decisions of the Ethics Commission could be overruled only by the joint meeting of the HCJ and the Ethics Commission (the same model was used during the formation of the High Anti-Corruption Court).
Possible threats:
  1. The number of the Supreme Court judges will be reduced from 200 to 100. The procedure of appointment of the new Supreme Court judges will be approved by the corrupt HCJ. The law provides no safeguards against dubious judges getting in the new Supreme Court;
  2. Decisions of the Competition Commission and the Ethics Commission will be subject to judicial review of the odious District Administrative Court of Kyiv (DACK). The DACK judges will be glad to stop the formation of a new HQCJ and dismissal of dubious HCJ members;
  3. The newly formed HQCJ will have to get the HCJ's approval for nearly any its regulation regarding assessment and appointment of judges. The current composition of the HCJ could block any positive decisions of the HQCJ

It should be kept in mind that the law #1008 is the first step towards the truly independent judiciary. The overall success of judicial reform to a great extent now depends on the successful implementation of the law and on relaunching the HCJ. DEJURE will closely follow these processes and we will keep you informed on these issues at all stages.
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