In August 2018, the selection of judges began for two major courts in the country – High Anti-Corruption Court and the Supreme Court. In the coming weeks, the High Qualification Commission of Judges will start assessing the level of competence and integrity of the candidates. It is on the transparency of the competition and the fairness in determining its results that the quality of the newly formed courts will depend, as will the fact of living up to the expectations of the Ukrainian society.
A year ago, the public closely monitored the first competition to the Supreme Court and recorded a number of violations. As a result, among others, candidates who had adopted politically motivated decisions, could not explain the origin of their income and violated human rights became the judges of the Supreme Court. At the same time, many candidates with impeccable reputation and whistle-blower judges found themselves at the bottom of the ranking. Reanimation Package of Reforms has repeatedly urged the Commission to ensure transparency and demanded substantiation of the competition results.
To prevent repeating the negative experience of the first round of the Supreme Court competition, it is crucial to introduce a number of changes to the selection procedure and evaluation methodology before the assessment of candidates to the High Anti-Corruption Court and the Supreme Court starts.
Importantly, this will not require adopting additional laws or amending effective ones. Respective changes should be made to the regulations governing the activity of the High Qualification Commission of Judges and depend exclusively on its will.
Public confidence in the competition results can only be achieved by ensuring transparency of the evaluation procedure. In view of this, Reanimation Package of Reforms calls on the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine:
1) to establish the minimum admissible score for anonymous testing and a practical exam prior to determining their results, as required by the law;
2) to ensure publicizing practical exams performed by the candidates as well as scores assigned by each of the members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges;
3) to determine clear criteria of integrity, violation of which leads to the termination of candidates’ participation in the competition;
4) to eliminate from the psychological testing the criteria aimed at identifying loyal and dependent candidates;
5) to ensure that members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges do not take decisions in the conflict of interest;
6) to announce the scores that candidates receive for each of the assessment indicators according to the methodology and decisions with the substantiation of the awarded scores.