On July 28 the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) finished a 9-month competition by shortlisting 120 candidates for the appointment as the new Supreme Court judges.
Announced goal of the reform to reboot and renew completely the highest judicial body was not met. Out of 120 finalists only 27 are attorneys or legal scholars, the rest 93 (83%) are acting or retired judges.
Moreover, 30 finalists, most of which are judges, received negative opinions from the Public Integrity Council (PIC). Consequently, each fourth future judge of the new Supreme Court either violated human rights as confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights, or abused powers for personal enrichment or made politically motivated decisions.
In total, the HQCJ offered 4 shortlists with 30 candidates in each for four cassation courts within the Supreme Court (administrative, criminal, commercial and civil). The breakdown is following:
- 9 candidates for the Administrative Cassation Court received PIC’s negative opinions (30% of total number of judges of the court)
- 6 finalists for the Criminal Cassation Court received PIC’s negative opinions (20% of total number of judges of the court)
- 8 candidates for the Commercial Cassation Court received PIC’s negative opinions (27% of total number of judges of the court)
- 7 candidates for the Civil Cassation Court received PIC’s negative opinions (23% of total number of judges of the court).
It is worth mentioning separately, that since the Code of Criminal Procedure requires a panel of 7 judges to consider NABU cases in Criminal Cassation Court, each such panel will contain at least one candidate with negative background.
The lists have now to be considered and approved by the High Council of Justice, which has the authority to disqualify candidаtes, and then by the President of Ukraine.
This is the last chance to stop appointments of the dubious candidates.
Profiles of the dubious finalists:
ADMINISTRATIVE CASSATION COURT
Will adopt final decisions in the cases where citizens will appeal the decisions, actions or inactivity of all state institutions (including electoral cases).
9 candidates received PIC’s negative opinions (30% of total number of court’s judges).
Moroz Larysa. As a member and rapporteur of judicial appellate panel adopted a decision to restore on their positions 5 judges who prosecuted participants of the Revolution of Dignity.
Saprykina Iryna. Prohibited peaceful protests in times of Yanukovych. In 2013 as a member of judicial appellate panel confirmed prohibition of direct action protests for unlimited number of third parties around Hostynnyi Dvir (historical object).
Prokopenko Oleksandr and Grytsiv Mikhailo. Both violated human rights and the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. In 2009 as members of judicial panel of the Supreme Court of Ukraine ignored decision of the ECHR (case “Yaremenko against Ukraine”). In 2015 the ECHR ruled that this decision also violated human rights and run against ECHR previous decision of 2008.
Both acquired into private property state-owned apartments, which is an abuse of office for personal enrichment.
Yurchenko Valentyna. Restored on position a judge who prosecuted participants of the Revolution of Dignity. In 2016 as a member of judicial panel abolished decision on dismissal of such a judge, thus restoring him on judicial position.
Pasichnyk Svitlana. As a member of judicial panel confirmed prohibition of peaceful direct action campaign for NGO “Insight” (LGBT NGO) and any other organizations or individuals.
Smokovych Mykhailo and Strelets Tetiana. In 2016 Smokovych as a head and Strelets as a member of judicial appellate panel adopted a decision to restore on their positions 5 judges who prosecuted participants of the Revolution of Dignity.
Zolotnikov Oleksandr. In December 2013 as a member of appellate judicial panel adopted a decision that confirmed prohibition of peaceful mass protest in Odessa and therefore is a subject to lustration. The judge also failed to indicate the information in his integrity declaration.
CRIMINAL CASSATION COURT
Will adopt final decisions in all criminal cases. This court will also adopt final decisions on high profile corruption cases, investigated by NABU.
6 candidates received PIC’s negative opinions (20% of total number of court’s judges).
Since the Code of Criminal Procedure requires a panel of 7 judges to consider NABU cases in cassation instance, each such panel will contain at least one candidate with negative background.
Stanislav Golubytskiy. As a member of the appellate judicial panel sentenced person for lifetime imprisonment without proper consideration of evidence against him, which was confirmed by the Ombudsman and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Foundation
Nadia Stefaniv. Welcomed adoption of the so-called dictatorship laws of January 16, 2014, which were aimed at giving additional guarantees to judges, but also suffocating the Revolution of Dignity.
Viacheslav Marynych. Failed to declare disposal right over a car in his asset declarations of 2015 and 2016, which is a corruption-related administrative offence according to Ukrainian legislation
Tetaina Shevchenko. Violated human rights and decision of the European Court of Human Rights. In 2009 as member of judicial panel of the Supreme Court of Ukraine ignored decision of the ECHR (case “Yaremenko against Ukraine”). In 2015 the ECHR ruled that this decision also violated human rights and ran against the ECHR previous decision of 2008.
Sergiy Slynko, Viacheslav Nastavniy. Both adopted politically motivated decisions and were involved in political persecutions: were members of cassation panels which adopted final verdicts against Yuriy Lutsenko, former Interior Minister and acting Prosecutor General (the CoE recognized the case as politically motivated); and against Pavlychenkos, who were recognized as political prisoners by the Parliament in 2014. Both are not eligible for appointment as judges according to the law on lustration.
In addition, judge Slynko provided false information in his integrity declaration, trying to hide the facts of his participation in political persecutions.
COMMERCIAL CASSATION COURT
Will consider economic cases pertaining to business relations among enterprises.
8 candidates received PIC’s negative opinions (27% of total number of court’s judges).
Lyudmyla Stratiyenko. According to her asset declaration, the only source of her income is judge’s salary. At the same time she owns a house of 260,8 m2 and a land plot in the village Khotiv, situated near Kyiv, and an apartment of 101,4 m2 in Pechersk district. In addition, in 2014 she sold her car Toyota Rav4 (2008 year of release) and bought four times more expensive BMW X3 (2014 year of release). Her property does not correspond with income.
Bogdan Lvov. Acting as a Head of Higher Commercial Court he himself formed a panel of judges to consider a case in violation of the Law “On Judiciary and Status of Judges” which provides for automatic random assignment of judicial panels for consideration of each particular case. Consequently, because of the interference the Supreme Court of Ukraine ruled to cancel this HCC decision.
Svitlana Bakulina. PGO’s special investigations department in the course of investigation of interferences into automatic system of courts document flow defined judge Bakulina as a member of a group of the High Commercial Court judges, who were regularly assigned to consider cases in violation of legislatively established procedures. The judge did not commit any actions to stop systemic violations of the law.
Larysa Rogach and Tetyana Drobotova. PGO’s special investigations department in the course of pre-trial investigation of interferences into automatic system of courts document flow defined a group of the High Commercial Court judges, who were regularly assigned to consider cases in violation of legislatively established procedures. According to materials, in total there were more than 21,000 interferences. The judges did not commit any actions to stop systemic violations of the law.
In addition, judge Rogach participated in taking a number of dubious judgements, including the one that enabled Yuriy Ivanyshchenko to get a land plot in the national reserve fund for his luxurious estate, known as Mezhygirya-2.
Igor Tkach. Mismatch between his property (2 apartments, 1 land plot, 1 object of incomplete construction and 2,5 million UAH savings) and income. During three parliamentary convocations his wife worked as an assistant-advisor to a notorious MP Sergiy Kivalov, former Party of Regions member.
Inna Berdnik. Violated human rights and decision of the European Court of Human Rights. ECHR stated that the decision of the Supreme Court of Ukraine regarding ECHR decision in the case “Bochan v. Ukraine” in adoption of which judge Berdnik participated distorted ECHR’s conclusions and can be treated as “gross arbitrariness” and “denial of justice”.
Oleksandr Baranets. Judge Baranets banned video fixation of the court hearings on May 31, 2016 without passing a motivated judgement in violation of the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct.
CIVIL CASSATION COURT
Will consider cases pertaining mostly to property relations and involving individual rights.
7 candidates received PIC’s negative opinions (23% of total number of court’s judges).
Sergiy Pogribnyi. Adopted decisions with the signs of political influence, which were later cancelled by the higher instance courts. Banned video fixation of the court hearings on August 6, 2014 although the parties did not deny filming. His family owes 6 apartments and 4 land plots; in addition, in 2015 and 2016 they declared cash savings that exceeded total family income of 2014-2015.
Lesko Alla. As a member of the HCJ judge Lesko has not taken appropriate measures to ensure bringing the judges who prosecuted participants of the Revolution of Dignity to justice, as well as to analyze and assess the facts of systemic pressure imposed on Maydan judges. While considering a disciplinary case against Maydan judge Kytsyuk contrary to previous practices of the HCJ and personally her judge Lesko refused to allow a complainant to get familiar with materials of the case. Judge Lesko was regularly missing the deadlines of preparations and distribution to the parties the decisions of the High Council of Justice and disciplinary panel of the HCJ.
Olga Stupak. In 2011 judge Stupak and her family declared no real estate at all, including on the right of use. In 2016 their family (together with her and her husband’s parents) owned 6 land plots (including the one in Kyiv), residential house of 380 m2 in the Stoyanka village of Kyiv region, house of 68,9 m2 in Khmelnytskyi region, 2 cars and some savings on bank accounts. Mathematical calculations show mismatch between their assets and income. In addition, the family often travels abroad, and their underaged son spent there 520 days in the last 3 years, which also requires substantial fundings.
Nataliya Antonenko. Judge Antonenko together with her family declared their assets worth of 3,7 million UAH, including 4 land plots, two residential houses of 338,3 m2 and 89,9 m2, 2 apartments, cars Suzuki SX4 (2007 year of release) and Toyota Camri (2012). The candidate did not provide proofs of the official sources of income, enough to cover these assets.