NGOs call on the Verkhovna Rada to amend the legislation to resume the work of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) in accordance with the Constitution and judicial reform initiated by the President of Ukraine. This reform is one of the leading indicators of Ukraine’s readiness to integrate with the European Union.
Under the conditions of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which will last indefinitely, the judicial system of Ukraine should resume the procedures for dismissal and removal of judges, as well as to ensure the inevitable punishment of those judges who sided with the enemy. To this end, the work of the HCJ, which is currently invalid, should be resumed.
As it is challenging to hold full-fledged competitions for vacant positions in HCJ under martial law, it is possible to use the optimal model – to complete competitions for positions in HCJ, which began in 2021. We would like to remind you that within these competitions, the Ethics Council carried out a preliminary check of 33 candidates and has already conducted several interviews with them. Thus, in order to fill vacancies in the HCJ, it is necessary to resume conducting interviews by the Ethics Council with candidates online. Further, the Ethics Council may recommend that the appointing entities – the President, the Verkhovna Rada, and the Congresses of Judges, Lawyers, Scholars, and Prosecutors – nominate 10 or more candidates out of 33 to the HCJ. procedures for dismissal, removal of judges and consideration of disciplinary complaints. To implement this scenario, the law should be amended, allowing martial law entities to appoint all candidates recommended by the Ethics Council to all available vacancies during the martial law. This procedure is fully consistent with the Constitution of Ukraine and the purpose of judicial reform:
At the same time, NGOs call for refraining from unconstitutionally restoring the HCJ, as any further decisions – dismissal or transfer of judges, disciplinary sanctions, etc. – will be declared unconstitutional and repealed in the future. In addition, the appointment of HCJ members not recommended by the Ethics Council will mean the failure of the judicial reform initiated by President Zelensky, which is essential for Ukraine’s successful European integration.