A working meeting devoted to the implementation of laws on the resumption of the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) and on the procedure for selecting members of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) was held at the Office of the President of Ukraine.
The event was attended by Deputy Head of the Office of the Head of State Andriy Smyrnov, Chairman of the Committee on Legal Policy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Kostin, Chairman of the Committee on Anti-Corruption Policy of the Verkhovna Rada Anastasia Radina, Chairman of the Commission on Legal Reform under the President of Ukraine, MP Serhiy Ionushas, Minister of Justice of Ukraine Denys Maliuska, Chairman of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention Oleksandr Novikov, Chairman of the Supreme Court Valentyna Danishevska, Chairman of the Council of Judges of Ukraine Bohdan Monich, G7 ambassadors and ambassadors of the European Union in Ukraine.
The participants, in particular, discussed the creation of the first competition commission for holding a competition to select members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges and the first Ethics Council to check the virtue of candidates for the positions of members of the Verkhovna Rada.
Kostin thanked international partners and the Council of Judges of Ukraine (CJU) for nominating candidates to the competition commission for the selection of members of the HQCJ and expressed hope that it will start working in the near future and will be able to select game-changing new members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges. At the same time, he recalled that on September 13 the Council of Judges was unable to delegate its representatives to the Ethics Council, which is why its staffing is being delayed.
"I want to call on the Council of Judges of Ukraine to perform the mission entrusted to it by law and to delegate its representatives in the Ethics Council, so that this is not perceived as impeding the HCJ reform and judicial reform alone. In order to simultaneously select members for vacant posts in the HCJ and check the current members of the HCJ, the Ethics Council should be staffed no later than the beginning of October," the MP said.
Danishevska said that "although the Council of Judges did not select representatives to the Ethics Council at the first try, it did not violate the law by doing so, and the Council will continue the voting until they select these persons."
Monich assured that "the Council of Judges of Ukraine is determined to implement this law, and we will do it." The Council of Judges will continue the work on delegating candidates to the Ethics Council. At the same time, Monich recalled that the Council of Judges has prepared proposals to improve the procedure for selecting members of the Ethics Council.
For his part, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Kyiv Nicolas Harrocks said that Ukraine now has high-quality legislation to clean up and restart the High Council of Justice, and it needs to be implemented. Head of the EU Delegation Matti Maasikas said that judicial reform is not only an internal issue for Ukraine, its successful implementation directly determines the foreign policy image of the country and the attraction of international assistance and investment.
Smyrnov said that the opinion of Volodymyr Zelenskyy on the issues raised can be worded in a clear and unambiguous phrase: "not a step backwards in judicial reform."
He emphasized the assurances expressed by the Chairman of the Council of Judges of Ukraine that there will be no impeding of the implementation of the Law "On amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine regarding the procedure for the selection (appointment) of members of the High Council of Justice and the activities of disciplinary inspectors of the High Council of Justice" and active steps of the Council of Judges on the earliest possible delegation of representatives to the Ethics Council will continue in the future.
"Any proposals for changes to the legislation will be considered in the parliament as usual, as it is done in relation to all other laws," Smyrnov said.
All participants in the meeting, except for representatives of the judiciary, who are limited by their status, agreed on a joint statement.
The joint statement of the meeting participants on the implementation of judicial reform in Ukraine
Participants of the meeting, which took place on September 16, 2021 at the Office of the President of Ukraine:
note that the successful implementation of the judicial reform initiated by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is crucial for the future of the country, it meets high public expectations and the demand for justice;
welcome the steps that have been taken by international partners and the judicial self-government body to implement the requirements of the Law of Ukraine "On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges and some laws of Ukraine regarding the resumption of the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine" (No. 1629-IX), namely: delegation of candidates to the competition commission for holding a competition to select members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine;
highly appreciate the professional level of experts nominated by international organizations for the first composition of the Ethics Council, the activities of which are provided for by the Law of Ukraine "On amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine concerning the procedure for selection (appointment) to the positions of members of the High Council of Justice and the activities of disciplinary inspectors of the High Council of Justice" (No. 1635-IX);
concerned that the Council of Judges of Ukraine did not take comprehensive measures within thirty days to properly implement the requirements of Law No. 1635-IX to delegate candidates from among judges or retired judges to the Ethics Council, thereby postponing its creation for an indefinite period;
insist on the early completion of the creation of the Ethics Council and the competition commission for holding a competition to select members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine and the commencement of their work;
strongly reject any attempt to jeopardize the implementation of Ukraine's vital reform aimed at strengthening the rule of law, increasing public confidence in the judiciary, attracting foreign investment and bringing Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic future closer.