Publication

Statement by the UHHRU on the draft law ‘On restoring credibility of the judicial system of Ukraine’

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union calls on to postpone the parliamentary review of the draft law ‘On restoring credibility of the judicial system of Ukraine’ until it will be thoroughly analyzed by professionals and appropriate civil society organizations.

This draft law, in case of its adoption in the version that has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, instead of restoring credibility of the judicial system will lead to further destruction of its independence. Moreover, this law will have a devastating effect on the legal system of Ukraine.

The draft law, while introducing lustration of judges, is not based on any general principles or a program of lustration, as no such document has yet been either discussed or approved. Taking into account the intention of the authorities to perform lustration in different areas of public administration, it creates a danger of using conflicting approaches to implementation of lustration in different areas.

On the one hand, the draft law randomly defines the scope of verification, disregarding other important aspects of judicial activities, which have equally serious consequences.

On the other hand, the draft law includes into the scope of verification decisions that ‘significantly restrict the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens’. Taking into account the ambiguousness of such characteristic and a logistical impossibility to review such quantity of court rulings, as this will involve almost all court rulings and have devastating consequences for the legal order in the country, since every court ruling will end up under a threat of being cancelled. Such legal uncertainty is a real threat to the society.

Moreover, the law does not specify procedures and does not even provide for the possibility of review, ’which significantly limits the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens,’ thus giving impression that the purpose of the law is not to restore fairness and credibility of the system of justice.

Such characteristic as existing disciplinary proceedings and their nature is extremely unreliable, since disciplinary proceedings against judges were frequently used as a means of putting pressure on them and disciplinary punishments were frequently practiced for issuing truly lawful rulings.

On January 9, 2013, the European Court of Human Rights issued a ruling on the case ’Volkov vs. Ukraine’, in which the court pointed out glaring violations committed against the judge. Specifically, reviewing guidelines for the composition of the Supreme Council of Justice led to the conclusion that such body cannot ensure independence and impartiality of hearing cases regarding judge’s dismissal. This draft law provides for establishing of a structure that will decide the fate of judges, which will be even less in line with the requirements of Article 6 of the Convention than the Supreme Council of Justice.

Justice is too delicate a matter for the society to be able to treat it hastily and without sufficient preparation.

Not denying the need to take drastic steps aimed at improving the judicial system and restoring credibility of the judiciary, we believe that this task requires a balanced approach, formulating and approving a set of criteria and thorough procedures, which will ensure a fair process and guarantee the rights of all stakeholders.

Without this, any lustration will look like winners taking it out on those who have been defeated.

 

Mykola Kozyrev, Chairman of the Board, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Arkady Bushchenko, Executive Director, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

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