HQCJ Must Appoint International Experts for Selection of Anti-Corruption Judges Immediately
Transparency International Ukraine and Anti-Corruption Action Center call on the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine to appoint the six international experts who will participate in selection of anti-corruption judges as soon as possible. Delays with establishment of the Public Council of International Experts (PCIE) reduced the quality of their work and does not leave them enough time to analyze the candidates to the anti-corruption court.
On 14 September, international organizations submitted to the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) a coordinated list of 12 candidates, among whom the HQCJ must appoint 6 members of the PCIE.
We hereby express our gratitude to Ukraine’s international partners for preparation of a consolidated list. We also support HQCJ’s decision to publish the list of candidates to the PCIE.
All 12 candidates have vast experience with investigation, prosecution or justice in corruption-related cases abroad. Some of them even have experience in national judicial ethics commissions:
- GUTAUSKAS, Aurelijus – Judge at the Supreme Court. Experience as judge, specialisation in criminal law, organised crime and judicial ethics and discipline
- DENKER, Flemming C. – Retired Deputy State Prosecutor in the Office for Serious Economic Crime
- ESCOBAR MEJIA, Claudia – Former appeal court judge
- ZARZECZNY, Ted – Judge ofthe Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan, Canada
- CASTRESANA FERNANDEZ, Carlos – Head of the Criminal Law Department at law firm Estudio Jurídico Ejaso
- KESSLER, Giovanni – Former Head of the Italian Customs and Monopoly Agency
- CORDY, Robert J. – Retired judge of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
- LAZAROVA TRAJKOVSKA, Mirjana – Former President of the First Section of the European Court of Human Rights
- TRUSSLER, Marguerite J. – Ethics Commissioner for the Province of Alberta, Canada
- FIRESTONE, Thomas – Lawyer at Baker & McKenzie LLP
- HARRIS, Lorna – Retired UK. Prosecutor
- HOOPER, Sir Anthony – Retired appeal court judge
Publication of candidates to the Public Council of International Expert will contribute to transparency and integrity of the competition, which is important that the HQCJ ensure at all stages, not only at the very start. Therefore we would like to point out a number of potential risks.
- Delaying of appointment of PCIE experts
If appointment of PCIE members is dragged out, they will not have enough time for close, timely analysis of candidates. This invalidates the crucial role of international experts in selection of anti-corruption judges. As a reminder, international experts and the HQCJ make a joint decision on the candidates’ compliance with the criteria of integrity and professional ethics. A joint meeting of international experts and the HQCJ must be held no later than during 30 days after the candidates’ test results are announced. Thus, a situation may occur when the PCIE will have limited time to analyze over 300 candidates. Any delays with appointment of the PCIE and beginning of their work may be perceived as purposeful blocking of participation of international experts, which will thus undermine credibility of the competition.
It is noteworthy that the law does not grant the HQCJ the right to create any additional procedures for selection of international experts.
- Creation of procedural obstacles to activity of the PCIE that are not prescribed by the law
Under the law, the HQCJ does not have the right to introduce any additional requirements to the activity of the PCIE. For instance, HQCJ cannot demand that PCIE provide written opinions on candidates, restrict the sources of information used by the PCIE or decide which evidence PCIE may consider reliable. In their turn, international experts must receive full access to information about the candidates in order to perform their function of verification of the candidates’ compliance with integrity criteria.
As a reminder, on 18 September, the Supreme Court of Ukraine ruled that the provisions of HQCJ Procedure which establish requirements concerning conclusions of Public Integrity Council and the right of the HQCJ not to review conclusions inconsistent with those requirements are illegal and invalid.
In order to prevent the aforementioned potential negative processes and consequences, we urge the HQCJ to:
- select the members of the PCIE immediately by open rating voting
- ensure conditions for unobstructed work of the PCIE and full access to information about candidates for the positions of High Anti-Corruption Court judges
- publish provisions of the regulation which will establish the procedure of work of the Public Council of International Experts within the scope of the Law of Ukraine “On the High Anti-Corruption Court”.