Law “On Restoring Trust in the Judicial Power in Ukraine” Adopted

The Law provided new opportunities for judicial self-governance. The Congress of Judges of Ukraine and the Council of Judges of Ukraine are set to become truly representative bodies. Thus, politicians will have a lot fewer opportunities to influence the judicial self-governance bodies. Under the new law, the Congress of Judges of Ukraine is formed based on a formula of 1 delegate per 20 judges. This means nearly 400 delegates instead of 96, as was the case previously. The new Council of Judges will consist of 40 members (only 11 members previously). Judges from all court levels and specializations will be represented proportionally. Previously, the Venice Commission criticized the situation whereby 6,000 general court judges represented only one third of these bodies’ memberships, whereas the remaining two thirds were represented by 2,000 commercial and administrative court judges. With the law going into effect, all court presidents and their deputies lost these offices, even though they remained judges. This could be considered an element of lustration – i.e., rejecting access to office not because of a particular misdeed, but on the basis of being part of the power system that lost all public trust and support. Judicial teams in each court received the right to independently elect their court presidents and deputies. At the same time, the law did not provide for precautions to prevent court presidents and deputies that were removed from office from being returned to these positions. Moreover, as an extraordinary measure, the law provides for the establishment of a Temporary Investigative Commission to review the facts suggesting violation of the oath of office by a judge, presence of grounds for bringing a judge to disciplinary or criminal responsibility, and issuing opinions subject to mandatory review by the High Council of Justice.

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