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Judicial Reform: Expectations and Possible Scenarios

On September 15 morning we held a diplomatic breakfast at the RPR office where we discussed the recent developments on judicial reform. First deputy chairman of the committee of the Verkhovna Rada on Legal Policy and Rule of Law Leonid Yemets, RPR experts Taras Shevchenko and Mykhailo Zhernakov presented their views on the possible developments of the reform of the judiciary.

Amendments to the Constitution regarding judiciary and the new Law «On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges» adopted on June 2 shall come into force at the end of this month. The way these changes will be implemented depends on proper execution of the Law «On Judiciary and Status of Judges» and clauses of other laws, which should be voted by Verkhovna Rada till the end of this month.

First of all, with respect to the legislative support of the judicial reform, Verkhovna Rada will have to adopt the laws “On High Council of Justice” and “On Constitutional Court” before 30th of September when constitutional amendments come into force. The law porposal “On High Council of Justice” still has some drawbacks (see infographics) that have to be remedied before the bill gets to the floor. The Constitutional Court bill also has to be amended in order to guarantee proper implementation of the constitutional provisions on the competitive selection of the Constitutional Court Justices. So far this bill compromises the idea.

The other burning issue is the selection of candidates for the new Supreme Court that will start next month. The Law «On Judiciary and Status of Judges» does not stipulate how this process is carried out. The absence of the competitive selection procedure creates big risk of political influence on the selection and thus the new Supreme Court. In order to minimize this risk, the rules of competitive selection should be made public as soon as possible, and maximum public and international oversight over this selection should be carried out.

Last but not least, to tackle the issues of grand corruption and impunity it is crucially important to adopt the law on the Anti-corruption courts and insure their absolute integrity and independence. In order to do so, the law should guarantee the special selection procedure of judges of the courts (both first and appeal instances) with trusted international experts playing a key role in the selection panel.