On February 8, the anticorruption group of the Reanimation Package of Reforms organized the reforms breakfast “Аnticorruption courts for Ukraine: model and advocacy perspectives”.
MP, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction Yegor Sobolev together with our experts from Anticorruption Action Centre and Transparency International Ukraine presented the draft law No.6011, which envisages establishment of Specialized Anti-Corruption courts in Ukraine.
Why Ukraine needs specialized anticorruption courts?
Ukraine has new independent bodies for investigation and prosecution of cases of grand corruption, but does not have independent courts. Institutional triangle for breaking corruption impunity is thus incomplete and anticorruption institutions cannot show results.
Of 43 cases filed to courts by National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) there are only 2 convictions and 11 judicially approved plea bargains with investigation, while remaining cases are stuck in courts, half of them not even open for trials.
Courts block pretrial investigations of NABU by leaking information of warrants for investigative activities, preserving official positions for people who are NABU suspects, releasing NABU suspects under low bails et cetera.
Judicial reform does not yet cover first instance courts, where NABU cases are stuck. Moreover, bodies that select judges are not rebooted even by half and have already lost public trust. These bodies failed to dismiss judges who unlawfully ruled against participants of the Revolution of Dignity as well as judges who possess unjustified wealth. One of these bodies even failed to remove its members who is suspected in corruption-related crime.
Key provisions of the draft law #6011 on anticorruption courts:
Preselection of judges must be performed by special selection commission with ⅓ of members recommended by international community. Head of National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine was selected with international involvement in selection panel, which guaranteed impartiality and transparency of selection process. Existing bodies for selection of judges may not offer candidates for anticorruption judges other than preselected by special commission.
Anticorruption judicial framework must include separate first instance court and autonomous appellate chamber. High anticorruption court should be first instance court and Anticorruption Appeal Chamber within Criminal Court within the Supreme Court should be established as appellate instance. Both first instance and appeal judges must be selected with participation of special selection commission.
High Anticorruption Court and Anticorruption Appeal Chamber must have guarantees of institutional independence: separate budgets established directly by the law, separate staff selected with participation of special selection commission and anticorruption judges, separate premises and own documentation systems.
Establishment of anticorruption courts with international participation in selection of judges will be the point of no return for breaking corruption impunity.
This brief overview of the draft law was prepared by the Anticorruption Action Center (ANTAC).
For a full version of a concept of Specialized Anti-Corruption courts, developed by a group of the RPR and ANTAC experts, please click HERE.