The HCJ blames international partners for blocking the judicial reform

5 February 2020 was the last day the HCJ could form the Ethics Commission and the HQCJ according to law 193-IX. The HCJ deliberately blocked the formation of the Ethics Commission and the HQCJ Selection Commission.

Given the fact that three international experts were delegated by international partners to the Ethics Commission the formation of the latter solely depended on the HCJ. The Council should have delegated three of its members to the Ethics Commission and form the Commission by formally appointing all the nominees.

Now the HCJ blames the international partners for failing the judicial reform by saying that the international partners who delegated experts to the Ethics Commission (i.e. the USAID and the Embassy of the UK) were not the right ones. The HCJ bases its argument on an absolutely manipulative interpretation of the law. Please note, that the international experts were delegated to the Ethics Commission in November 2019 and up until February the HCJ had not expressed any doubts in terms of the nominees and the organizations which delegated them.

HQCJ Selection Commission, in its turn, was not formed after the HCJ adopted a Regulation which in contradiction to the law eliminated the role of the international experts in the process. Moreover, upon the request of our board member Roman Maselko regarding the formation of the Selection Commission the HCJ officially informed that as of January 2020 no candidates were nominated and provided a copy of an official letter from the USAID to the HCJ. In the letter, the USAID expressed their concerns about the Regulation as a reason not to delegate the international experts to the HQCJ Selection Commission.

The fact that the HCJ provided this letter on the request regarding the formation of the Selection Commission proves that as of January the HCJ regarded the USAID as a proper international organization to nominate the international experts. The HCJ changed its stance on this matter only after the deadline established by the law had passed.

The reform can be unblocked only by amending the law. After the HCJ failed to form the Ethics Commission and the HQCJ the only way to unblock the judicial reform is to adopt the legislative amendments which will exclude the HCJ from the process of the formation of the commissions.

Even if the international partners delegate their experts to the Selection Commission and the HCJ forms both the Ethics Commission and the HQCJ, from the legal point the formation of these bodies would comply with the law and thus any decisions of these bodies may be and will be declared illegal by the court (the DACK).

Therefore, the amendments to the law "On the judiciary and status of judges" which will both implement the Venice Commission recommendations on the number of the Supreme Court judges and unblock the formation of the Ethics Commission and the HQCJ Selection Commission is highly anticipated.