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Who will check the lack of integrity of judges?

The Competition For the Position of a Member of the High Council of Justice Representing the President Is Ongoing. Who Is Who Among the Candidates?

Competition for the High Council of Justice is ongoing – the President of Ukraine has to choose the candidates. According to the Law “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges”, two of the members of one of the main judicial bodies shall be appointed by the President.

From July 31 to August 2, the Competition Commission is scheduled to interview all the candidates eligible to participate in the competition (49 were admitted, but two withdrew their applications).

CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary! analyzed all the candidates who expressed a desire to compete for the possibility of dismissing and bringing judges to disciplinary responsibility (as this is within the authority of the High Council of Justice).

And some of them raise serious doubts about their eligibility to become a member of the High Council of Justice, as they do not meet one or even several criteria of integrity, according to the campaign methodology.

For example, candidate Inna Hryban is known for adopting a resolution as part of the panel which upheld the ruling of the court of first instance to restrict the right to peaceful assembly to an unlimited number of persons during the Euromaidan period in the center of Chernihiv.  The procedural law violations in the case were then determined by a decision of the disciplinary chamber of the High Council of Justice.

Or Oleksii Turchenko – a retired judge from the Zhovtnevyi District Court of Mariupol. According to the Unified State Register of Judgments, on December 21, 2015, Judge Oleksii Turchenko issued a ruling dismissing a request to extend the custody of the suspected terrorist supporter of the terrorist organization Volodymyr Nesterenko. According to the TSN journalist report, Volodymyr Nesterenko was the head of the printing company Novy Svit, which published the Novorossiya newspaper and other products of the terrorist organization, in the so-called DPR. According to the Myrotvorets resource, referring to the SSU data, Nesterenko fled right after the discontinuation of the preventive measure.

In general, according to the analysis by CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary! 9 candidates are involved in dubious decisions. In addition to the above candidates, they also include Oleksandr Khrimli, Malvina Danylova, Ihor Karachentsev, Anatolii Zahorodnii, Inna Hryban, Mykhailo Kobal, Oleksandr Korotkevych.

Those who tried their hand at the High Anti-Corruption Court but failed the interview with the international experts are also candidates for the High Council of Justice. Thus, the current candidate for the High Council of Justice Anatolii Zahorodnii failed to explain to the Public Council of International Experts the origin of the funds of his 84-year-old father, who purchased and gave his grandson a 122-sqm apartment (son of the judge Zahorodnii) in Kyiv worth UAH 1,110,866 in the block of flats where Zahorodnii’s colleague also bought an apartment two days later.

In general, the results of the analysis of the candidates by CHESNO. Filter the Judiciary! showed that 3 of the candidates are involved in human rights violations, 4 are in violation of professional ethics, 12 candidates have non-transparent wealth, and 2 are involved in criminal offenses, according to the movement methodology.

Pursuant to Article 106 of the Law of Ukraine “On Judiciary and Status of Judges”, the powers of the High Council of Justice include resolving the issue of disciplinary liability of judges, in particular for violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as a result of the decision rendered by them, gross violation of the law resulting in material adverse effects, expenses incurred by the judge or their family members in excess of the income of such judge and the income of their family members.

Given that many of the candidates to the High Council of Justice analyzed have questionable biographies and may be involved in such violations, the question of whether they will purge the judiciary of unscrupulous colleagues with similar violations is rhetorical.

In any case, the result of “presidential” competition to the High Council of Justice will demonstrate the new team’s readiness for systemic change and, most importantly, implementation of their own program of judicial reform. 

Liudmyla Slyva, LIGA.Blogs