25

November

2015

President of Ukraine Introduced the Draft Law on Amending the Constitution of Ukraine (Concerning Justice)

On November 25, 2015, the President introduced before Parliament the draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (concerning justice).

The draft amendments to the Constitution are a significant step forward toward the implementation of Council of Europe’s recommendations in the areas of judicial, prosecutorial, and constitutional reform. In particular, the draft amendments to the Constitution would:

- eliminate the Parliament’s influence in the appointment and removal of judges and lay the foundation for reserving to the President purely ceremonial functions in connection with judicial appointments;

- modify the immunity of judges into a functional one and entitle the High Council of Justice with lifting a judge’s immunity;

- provide that the majority of the High Council of Justice members will be made up of judges elected by their peers (this provision is to be introduced gradually, with the old HCJ members retaining their positions);

- improve the Constitution’s provisions concerning the principles of the Constitutional Court’s operations;

- repeal the Parliament’s ability to issue a vote of no confidence in the Prosecutor General, etc.

At the same time, despite a significant number of positive changes, the draft amendments to the Constitution throw some cloud into the silver lining. In particular, the draft proposes granting the advocates an exclusive right to representation of other persons in court, which is a step toward monopolization in the area of legal services. Among other problems, the draft also fails to provide for a non-political procedure for appointment of the Prosecutor General and, contrary to recommendations of the Council of Europe bodies, maintains the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges as two separate bodies.

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