Statement of the Judiciary on the Situation in the Judicial System

2019-06-12

Dear colleagues!

This is to inform you that the President of the Supreme Court, the High Council of Justice, the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine, the Council of Judges of Ukraine, the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, the rector of the National School of Judges of Ukraine made a joint statement regarding the current situation in the judicial system.

According to this statement, the changes to the Constitution of Ukraine of 2 June 2016 (concerning justice) and the new version of the Law of Ukraine "On the Judiciary and Status of Judges" provided a number of positive changes, in particular:

- Strengthening the independence of the judiciary;

- Elimination of political influence on qualification and disciplinary procedures concerning judges;

- Strengthening the role of bodies of judicial governance and self-government - the Supreme Council of Justice, the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine, the Council of Judges of Ukraine;

- Increase the ability for lawyers outside the judicial system to participate in competitive procedures before the Supreme Court, the higher specialized and appellate courts;

- Establishment at the legislative level of financial guarantees for judges.

A constitutional requirement has also been to assess judges according to criteria of competence, integrity and professional ethics. For this purpose, 2 701 judges passed qualification and 2 586 judges continue their qualification assessment.

At the same time, during this period, more than two thousand judges were dismissed, which significantly affected the staffing of courts and the ability to ensure, in a reasonable time, impartial and fair consideration of cases. Today 14 courts do not administer justice in the absence of judges or lack of authority of judges, in 154 courts the number of judges administering justice is less than 60 per cent of the staff. As a result, the right of citizens to receive free access to justice is violated. An outstanding issue remains the significant difference in the remuneration of judges who have not yet passed the qualification assessment, in particular for reasons that are not depending on them.

This state of affairs is caused by the lengthy process of qualification evaluation and the simultaneous conduct of two competitions to the Supreme Court, the Supreme Anticorruption Court and the High Court of Intellectual Property, and the current selection of candidates for the post of judge for training at the National School of Judges of Ukraine.

The resolution of human resources problems in the justice system is greatly complicated by the long-lasting attempts to block the work of the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine, which are carried out both in court and in extrajudicial mode.

Taking into account the above, the Chair of the Supreme Court, the High Council of Justice, the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine, the Council of Judges of Ukraine, the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, the rector of the National School of Judges of Ukraine, according to the results of the meeting of the Communications Committee of the justice system, consider that the primary task of all bodies of judicial governance is to achieve significant and immediate changes in solving a complex of human resources problems in the justice system.

For this purpose, it is recommended to:

- HQCJ in the short term (1-2 months) to announce and hold competitions for vacancies in local (district) courts for candidates to the positions of judges who have passed special training in the National School of Judges of Ukraine, as well as in courts with staff shortages of 50 percent or more;

- HCJ, HQCJ, SJA of Ukraine during the third and fourth quarters of 2019 complete the transfer of judges to the appellate courts, as well as to newly created local (district) courts;

- HQCJ to consider the possibility of accelerating the qualification evaluation. If necessary, amend the Regulation on the procedure and methodology of qualification assessment, indicators of compliance with the criteria of qualification and the means of their establishment. To conduct a qualitative assessment of judges who have completed the five-year term of office;

- According to the procedure provided by Article 19 of the Law of Ukraine "On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges", the optimal number of judges in the appellate and local (district) courts should be determined by the SJA of Ukraine in view of changes in the procedural law. Accelerate the results of the research on measuring the load on judges and their approval by the Council of Judges of Ukraine;

- HQCJ, in carrying out measures for the transfer of judges to newly created district (local) courts, shall be guided by the temporary number of judges agreed upon by the GRP

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