Current judicial elites are using all available tools to thwart the judicial reform. At first, the Council of Judges blocked the establishment of the Ethics Council, and now the Supreme Court has initiated the appeal to the Constitutional Court to declare the reform unconstitutional. We call on the President and the Parliament to immediately initiate and adopt legislative changes that will allow to create the Ethics Council as soon as possible.
In summer of this year, Ukrainians got real chance for qualitative changes in justice. The Verkhovna Rada adopted laws on reforming two key bodies in the judiciary, namely the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges. However, implementation of the reform was stopped at the start. The Council of Judges refused to comply with the law and did not delegate at the appointed time three representatives to the Ethics Council, which was created to clean and restart the High Council of Justice.
Despite repeated public promises to delegate representatives to the Ethics Council, the Council of Judges continues to sabotage the reform. At first, the Council of Judges failed to vote for candidates who had indicated their intention to work in the Ethics Council, and then came up with long selection procedure with excessive requirements for candidates, which could take months. Representatives of the Council of Judges have even resorted to public blackmail. They promised to speed up in exchange for changes to the law that will eliminate the role of independent experts in the Ethics Council.
We are convinced that such actions of the Council of Judges have one single goal. Namely, to delay the establishment of the Ethics Council as long as possible in order to gain time for the Constitutional Court. Given the use of current composition of the Constitutional Court to destroy anti-corruption legislation, there is high risk that similar decisions will be made regarding cleansing of the High Council of Justice.
That is why we call on the President and the Parliament to immediately submit and consider the draft law on unblocking the formation of the Ethics Council, which will remove the Council of Judges from this process. The role of the Council of Judges should be delegated to another entity, for instance, to the Minister of Justice. As the Council of Judges refused to comply with the law in timely manner and to use its powers.
In our opinion, this is the only step that can unblock implementation of the judicial reform and guarantee fulfillment of obligations of authorities to people and international partners.
Also, given the threat to reform from current composition of the Constitutional Court, we continue to insist on urgent need for real competitive selection of judges to the Constitutional Court by independent commission. And we call on Members of Parliament to support regarding amendments to the draft law No.4533 on the constitutional procedure.
The Anti-Corruption Action Center
All-Ukrainian Association Automaidan
Center for Political and Legal Reforms