The Venice Commission does not support the draft law 3711-д on the procedure of formation of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges (HQCJ) in the current version. If the draft is adopted by the Parliament with no changes the judicial reform will be doomed to failure. This was emphasized by the President of the Venice Commission Gianni Buquicchio during the Zero Corruption Forum. Democracy in Action.
In his speech, Mr Buquicchio stressed that the HQCJ should be formed urgently, but in no case should the unreformed HCJ be empowered to select its members. The international experts should be granted a casting vote, and the model of voting in the Ethics Council, proposed by the Venice Commission for the HCJ reforming, should be implemented in regard to the selection of members of the HQCJ.
Before empowering the HCJ with regard to the HQCJ, it is necessary to completely reform the HCJ and restore public confidence in the body. The selection procedure for the HQCJ should be similar to the procedure for selecting HACC judges that has proven successful.
The President of the Venice Commission stressed that the cleansing of the HCJ is a priority for judicial reform. Mr Buquicchio recalled the recent opinion of the Venice Commission on the draft law 5068 on the reform of the HCJ through the introduction of an Ethics Council, which will check the integrity of existing members and select new ones. The mechanism for involving international experts in the Ethics Council will ensure an objective approach to the selection of candidates for the HCJ, and the casting vote of international experts will truly cleanse all judicial bodies of members of low integrity.
According to Mr Buquicchio, the involvement of international experts in the selection does not contradict international standards if implemented in compliance with the Constitution and should be limited in time - it should be applied until there are clear grounds to believe that national experts in the selection commissions use the same principles as international. The President of the Venice Commission noted that the decision to involve international experts in the selection of members of the judicial governance bodies is difficult for both the judges and the state, but is essential for real judicial reform and overcoming corruption in the judiciary.
The leading NGOs are calling on MPs to support amendments № 451 and № 453 to the draft law 3711-d and ensure the start of real judicial reform instead of subordinating the remnants of Ukraine's judiciary to the corrupt judicial corporation.
Earlier, the Venice Commission adopted an opinion on the draft law 5068, in which it recommended introducing a model that would give a casting vote to international experts in the Ethics Council.