A meeting of the renewed Commission on Legal Reform was chaired by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who joined it in the format of a video conference. The Head of State set a task to work out concrete ways to overcome the current constitutional crisis, as well as to restore public confidence in the judiciary.
This is the first sitting of the Commission on Legal Reform under the President of Ukraine, which took place after the decision of the Constitutional Court on a number of provisions of anticorruption legislation.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Office of the President, the Verkhovna Rada, the government, law enforcement and anticorruption bodies, as well as diplomatic representatives of Ukraine's partner countries.
The President noted that justice is one of the basic values of Ukrainian citizens, but it cannot be ensured without an effective and independent law enforcement and judicial system. In addition, domestic and foreign investors need a fair trial.
"In my message to the Verkhovna Rada, I spoke about the need for judicial reform. But not for the sake of the word "reform", not for shuffling positions between the same personalities, but for those changes that will ensure an objective, impartial, fair trial," Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed.
He recalled that on October 27, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine recommended the Commission on Legal Reform to intensify the preparation of proposals for judicial reform.
"It is worth conducting a thorough audit and evaluation of the effectiveness of previous reforms. Only with such an analysis will we be able to correct mistakes and create legislation consistent with the Constitution of Ukraine, international legal acts and recommendations of the Venice Commission," the President noted.
According to him, the lack of proper constitutional regulation, its incompleteness or vagueness of certain aspects of the judiciary have become the cause of the current crisis processes.
"I expect from the Commission effective solutions and concrete ways out of both the current constitutional crisis and the total crisis of confidence in the judiciary. Even if it is necessary to amend the Constitution of Ukraine for that," the President said.
"Citizens of Ukraine, domestic and foreign investors, our international partners, we must all have a "healthy" judicial system - independent, consistent, objective. And this is exactly the task facing the renewed Commission on Legal Reform," he added.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also thanked those judges of the Constitutional Court who did not support the unconstitutional decision to abolish the anticorruption infrastructure.
Serhiy Ionushas, Chairman of the Legal Reform Commission, spoke about the main directions of its work. The priorities are the resumption of staffing of courts and the launch of the renewed High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, the creation of a new independent disciplinary body in the judiciary, and the improvement of the procedure for electing new honest and professional members of the High Council of Justice.
Serhiy Ionushas called the development and implementation of uniform quality standards for the performance of court functions, as well as the introduction of e-court and online justice, important elements in the reform of the judiciary.
In order to restore public confidence in the Constitutional Court, the Chairman of the Commission on Legal Reform considers it necessary to adopt new legislative principles for the work of the CCU.
It is also necessary to harmonize with the Constitution of Ukraine the legislation governing the activities of the State Bureau of Investigation and the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine. The Security Service of Ukraine needs to be deprived of its uncharacteristic functions, in particular the investigation of economic and corruption crimes.
The chairmen of the working groups of the Legal Reform Commission reported on the activities of each of them. In particular, draft amendments on decentralization of power were discussed, which will ensure the completeness and universality of local self-government.
Head of the working group for the development of legislation on the organization of the judiciary and the administration of justice, Deputy Head of the Office of the President Andriy Smyrnov called overcoming the staff shortage in the courts one of the priorities.
"Due to the absence of more than a third of judges, not only judges suffer from overload, but also ordinary people who have been waiting for years for their cases to be considered. The formation of a new High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine based on the results of an open competition will make it possible to start the procedure of selecting judges," he stressed.
Andriy Smyrnov called on people's deputies to complete the work on Bill № 3711 as soon as possible, which will unblock the work on qualification assessment and appointment of judges.
Anastasia Radina, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Anticorruption Policy, stressed the importance of full harmonization of anticorruption legislation with Ukraine’s obligations under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan with the EU.
First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk stressed the need to define a clear list of bills that will be proposed for consideration by parliamentary committees and specific deadlines for their development.