Weekly analytics for 14 – 20 September 2021
Weekly analytics of the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform include a weekly expert analysis of the most important processes in Ukraine in areas of constitutionalism, political parties and elections, governance and public administration reform, judiciary, combatting corruption, criminal justice, etc.
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The head of the СJU promised to fulfill the requirements of the law regarding the delegation of candidates to the Ethics Council
On September 16, a meeting was held at the President’s Office concerning support for judicial reform in Ukraine, attended by MPs, the Minister of Justice, the Head of the Council of Judges of Ukraine (CJU), the Supreme Court, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention, as well as the G7 and European Union’s ambassadors. The meeting was initiated by the President in response to the CJU’s failure to vote for candidates for the Ethics Council, which blocked the cleansing and renewal of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) (more details available in the weekly analysis for September 7-13). The Head of the CJU, according to the President’s Office, reported that the CJU is intending to implement this law and promised that the work on the delegation of its representatives to the Ethics Council will continue.
Following the meeting, participants (except for representatives of the judiciary) agreed on a joint statement calling for the speediest possible completion of the formation of the Ethics Council and the competition commission for the selection of members of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges (HQCJ), as well as expressed unfettered non-acceptance of any attempts to threaten the judicial reform implementation.
The next day, the Plenum of the Supreme Court was held to consider the HCJ’s appeal on the non-compliance with the Constitution of certain provisions of the Law #1635-IX (including the functioning of the Ethics Council). Based on the results of the meeting, consideration of this matter was postponed to October 8.
The CPLR’s assessment
The President’s clear articulation of the position on the non-acceptance of any freezing and delays in judicial reform («no step backward in judicial reform») is a positive signal. In contrast, when the HCJ undermined the implementation of the first presidential law on the reform of the judicial self-governance bodies, there was no response from the President.
The CPLR’s experts believe that currently it is important to ensure the CJU’s implementation of the Law #1635-ІХ, since there are no obstacles to this regard. Otherwise, the reform of the HCJ will be postponed indefinitely.
The first composition of the Competition Commission for the selection of HQCJ members was appointed
On September 17, acting Head of the HCJ appointed the first composition of the Competition Commission for the selection of the HQCJ’s members, which includes:
- under the CJU’s quota: S. Verlanov (judge of the Kyiv Court of Appeal), Ye. Mezentsev (Deputy Head of the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal), and I. Mishchenko (judge of the Commercial Cassation Court of the Supreme Court);
- under the quota of international partners: R. Broekhuijsen (retired Special Prosecutor in the Serious Fraud Office of the Dutch Prosecution Service), T. Zarzeczny (retired judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Saskatchewan, Canada, who also serves as a member of the Public Council of International Experts, which selected judges of the High Anti-Corruption Court), and S. Markman (retired Head of the Michigan Supreme Court).
The CPLR’s assessment
Acting Head of the HCJ appointed all three judges delegated by the CJU to the Competition Commission. As previously reported by the CPLR’s experts, CSOs have uncovered circumstances that may indicate the candidates’ failure to meet the integrity criteria, regarding at least two of the candidates (Ye. Mezentsev and I. Mishchenko). International partners delegated as many as eight candidates to the Competition Commission, three of whom were appointed by the acting Head of the HCJ. Thus, the competent composition of the Competition Commission was formed, which will be able to start operating.
Appointment of the first composition of the Competition Commission will allow to start the formation of the HQCJ. According to the Law #1629-IX, the Competition Commission must approve the regulations on the competition and the methodology for assessing the integrity and professionalism of candidates, as well as publish a call for a competition to the HQCJ within 30 days from the date of its first meeting. It should be noted that a decision on the appointment of the HQCJ’s members will be made by the HCJ, the renewal and cleansing of which is being delayed. That means that, in case of ongoing delay in cleansing of the HCJ, the social legitimacy of the HQCJ’s new composition – appointed by the unreformed HCJ – may be placed in doubt.