Ambassadors of number of states express concern about Zelensky’s judicial reform

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the law on the relaunch of the judicial reform on October 16
14:53, 17 October 2019

The representatives of foreign states and international institutions in a letter addressed to the leadership of the Verkhovna Rada and President’s Office concerning some points of bill #1008 adopted by the parliament on October 16 as Sudebno-Yurydychna newspaper reported.

Particularly, EU Ambassador Matti Maasikas, UK Ambassador Melinda Simmons, Canada’s Ambassador Roman Waschuk, EBRD Managing Director, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus Matteo Patrone and German Ambassador Anka Feldhusen appealed to Ukrainian officials.

The letter notes that the adopted bill is “draft law is one step as part of a longer trajectory of judicial reform, and that there is a strong political imperative for rapid reform”.

Related: Zelensky signs bill on continuous service of National TV Council

However, the foreign diplomats expressed concern over such issues:

  • The planned re-selection of the Supreme Court judges and the reduction of its numbers without clear justification and under unclear terms. Any reduction of judges of the Supreme Court should be preceded by a review of the rules on the court’s jurisdiction and proper staffing of the courts of lower instances.
  • The foreseen subordination of the new High Qualification Commission of Judges under the unreformed Supreme Council of Justice. Such subordination should only happen once the Supreme Justice Council has also been reformed.
  • Commission mandates. The mandates of the new HQCJ Selection Commission and the Supreme Justice Council Integrity Commission, including the modalities for the engagement and involvement of the international experts, should be further reviewed to ensure their effectiveness.

The copy of the letter was sent to PM Oleksiy Honcharuk, Head of the President’s Office Andriy Bohdan, Prosecutor General Ruslan Ryaboshapka, First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Legal Policy Iryna Venediktova and Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Law Enforcement Activity Denis Monastyrsky.

Sudebno-Yurydychna newspaper

Sudebno-Yurydychna newspaper

Sudebno-Yurydychna newspaper

As it was reported, on September 11, a number of provisions of the bill №1008 proposed by Volodymyr Zelensky were severely criticized by Deputy Head of the European Union Delegation to Ukraine Annika Weidemann and Canadian Ambassador Roman Vashchuk. Diplomats noted that the reduction of the number of judges of the Supreme Court is groundless, and the extension of lustration to members of the High qualification commission of judges of Ukraine is generally meaningless and ineffective. According to the ambassadors, the bill №1032 "On Amendments to Some Laws of Ukraine on Priority Measures for the Reform of the Prosecution Bodies" also needs serious revision.   

Related: Parliament rejects bill on chemical castration for pedophiles, vetoed by president

On October 16, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the presidential bill #1008 on the activity of the bodies of the judicial self-administration.

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