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11.03.2011

Attempt to oust Head of Supreme Court fails

   

The vote of no confidence against Head of Ukraine’s Supreme Court, Vasyl Onopenko, on Friday failed to gain endorsement from a simple majority with only 17 of the 46 judges voting for it.  28 opposed the motion, while one vote was declared invalid.

Radio Svoboda reports that before the secret ballot, Mr Onopenko objected to the fact that this was not an open vote, pointing out that this was not envisaged by the Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges. He stressed that the public had a right to know on what grounds there was a vote of no confidence in the Head of the Supreme Court.  “The Supreme Court is not a closed corporation”

Kyiv Post writes that Onopenko said in his address before the vote that the no-cofidence vote wasn't about him, per se, but about the independence of the Supreme Court.  This has been seriously curtailed since the adoption of the Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges in July. The latter was passed and signed into law by the President despite warnings of grave failings and the fact that the Venice Commission had not yet provided its opinion.  The latter, made public in October,  proved very negative, with the curtailment of the Supreme Court’s powers and extension of the powers of the High Council of Justice coming in for particular criticism.

Kyiv Post states that “Onopenko's ouster would have given pro-presidential officials almost complete control over the nation's judiciary. Onopenko, elected to parliament in 2006 on the ticket of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko's faction, is widely regarded as one of the last top officials not subservient to the president.”

New information from reports at Radio Svoboda and Kyiv Post

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