On November 25, the President of Ukraine submitted the draft law “On amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (regarding judiciary)” under Reg. No. 3524 (hereinafter referred to as Draft) to the Parliament. The Draft has been developed by the Constitutional Commission. On November 9, the National Reforms Council recommended that the President should submit it to the Verkhovna Rada, while the Verkhovna Rada should consider this draft in the first reading during the ongoing session. As early as the next plenary week, the Verkhovna Rada might start the procedure of amending the Constitution in part of the judicial reform.
The draft has a number of positive amendments and novelties, such as establishment and liquidation of courts by law; resolution of the issues concerning the judges’ career and dismissal to be tackled by the High Council of Justice with judges constituting the majority being elected by their peers; introduction of appointment of judges for an unlimited term; introduction of assessment of every judge with respect to their intergrity, competency, and professional ethics, as well as introduction of a mechanism of judge’s participation in the competition or dismissal/transfer in case of liquidation or reorganization of the court they work at.
However, the goal of the reform can not be achieved only through amending the Constitution. As before, the RPR insists on adopting a three-tier court system by establishing a new Supreme Court and reorganizing courts of appeal, as well as rebooting the judiciary by appointing the judges to their offices as a result of open competitive selection.
The RPR states that the judicial reform anticipated by the public cannot be implemented, unless the package of implementation laws is adopted simultaneously with amendments to the Constitution:
At the same time, the RPR experts do not agree with the necessity of formalizing the monopoly of attorneys for representation in courts in the Constitution (it can be formalized by law provided that there are the necessary preconditions) or delay of ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court for three years.
Thus, the RPR endorses submittal of the Draft for consideration to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. However, the Draft can be finally approved only if a corresponding package of implementation laws is simultaneously adopted, and the provisions establishing the monopoly of attorneys and postponing recognition of jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court are removed.