On September 29, the High Council of Justice announced the final list of 111 candidates recommended for the appointment as Supreme Court judges, which is to be submitted for the President’s signature. The list includes at least 25 unscrupulous candidates that received negative opinions of the Public Integrity Council.
These are the judges who participated in political persecution, banned peaceful demonstrations during the Revolution of Dignity, made politically motivated decisions, severely violated human rights and/or decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, opposed the reboot of the judiciary or could not explain the origin of their assets.
In particular, Vyacheslav Nastavny and Serhiy Slynko who were in the panel of judges that considered the case of Yuriy Lutsenko in the cassation instance and sentenced him to a four-year imprisonment have been recommended for appointment as Supreme Court judges. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament in their resolutions directly called this conviction political persecution.
Сurrent member of the High Council of Justice, Alla Lesko who helped judges of the Maidan to avoid responsibility also appeared to be in the final list of nominees. Other candidates recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court, particularly judges of the High Administrative Court of Ukraine Larysa Moroz, Valentyna Yurchenko and Mykhailo Smokovych helped judges of the Maidan to retain their positions. The final list also includes judges who arbitrarily banned peaceful demonstrations during the Maidan, particularly Oleksandr Zolotnikov, Iryna Saprykina and Svitlana Pasichnyk.
A number of judges who were recommended for the appointment to the Supreme Court have severely violated human rights, as established by the European Court of Human Rights. These are judges Mykhailo Hrytsiv, Stanislav Kravchenko, Oleksandr Prokopenko, Tetyana Shevchenko and Inna Berdnyk. The decision of judge Berdnyk, who was on the judicial panel of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bochan v. Ukraine (No. 2) qualified as “significant violation” and “denial of justice”. Other judges on the final list attempted to hide the fact that their actions led to Ukraine’s loss in the European Court of Human Rights and failed to include this information in their declarations of integrity.
The appointment of these and other candidates who have become the finalists of the competition, despite the negative opinions of the Public Integrity Council and numerous appeals from the public to terminate their participation, will undoubtedly have a negative effect on the level of trust to the Ukrainian judiciary. The admission of discredited persons who served the Yanukovych regime, violated human rights and liberties, misused their positions of authority with political motives and have a dubious origin of their wealth is a betrayal of expectations of millions of Ukrainians for the renewal of the judiciary. Moreover, it is a clear signal for the old corrupt judicial system to further simulate quality reshuffle of the personnel of trial courts and the court of appeal.
The Supreme Court competition has clearly testified: the High Qualification Commission of Judges and the High Council of Justice, most of which are comprised of judges elected by judges, are unable to ensure that the judiciary is purged from unscrupulous servants of Themis. These judicial authorities and their procedures require radical reform, while the role of the public in the election and appointment of judges must be substantially strengthened.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko as the author and the driver of the judicial reform bears personal political responsibility for its outcome. The President as the guarantor of the Constitution of Ukraine has to ensure strict fulfillment of the requirement of Article 127 thereof providing that only a conscientious person may be appointed as a judge.
Judicial Reform expert group of Reanimation Package of Reforms
CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary! Campaign
Anticorruption Action Centre