New Law on the Judiciary augurs increased disorder


The Law on the Judicial System and Status of Judges which has just come into force is in many ways out of line with European norms. This is the message from human rights groups with criticism of the law vocal.

According to Ihor Koliushko, Head of the Centre for Political and Legal Reform, one can expect a considerable reduction in independence of the judiciary, and of the judges themselves. “This is reflected in the powers which the High Council of Justice receives. And its makeup does not comply with European standards for a body which should use disciplinary proceedings against judges”.

The High Council of Justice is a political body which is formed by the President and parliament and “at present is two-thirds dependent on one political force”, the Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Volodymyr Yavorsky explains.

He believes mass dismissals of judges cannot be ruled out, nor the loss of any independence from the authorities of those who remain in their positions. The Supreme Court, he thinks, could end up without work since all disputes will be shared out between the economic, criminal, civil and administrative courts. He expects this to result in considerable delays in examination of cases and an increase in disruption in court proceedings.

The Deputy Head of the President’s Administration Andriy Pornov told the Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service that President Yanukovych had already given “a whole range of instructions to the Government and Ministry of Justice in the context of the coming into effect of the law on the judicial system”. Among them he mentioned the instruction to create another level – a High Specialized Court on examining civil and criminal cases. Yavorsky said that this is envisaged by the new law. However this will not, in his view, lead to any acceleration in examination of cases or have any effect on court proceedings.

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