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23.06.2011

High Council of Justice’s extended powers upheld

   

 

On Tuesday the Constitutional Court issued a judgement upholding all powers held by the High Council of Justice on dismissing judges. None of the items of the submission from the Supreme Court was allowed. The Supreme Court had contended that a number of the articles of the Code of Administrative Justice and the Law on the High Council of Justice were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court did not succeed either to have the ban on courts suspending the force pending resolution of a law suit, of acts of the President, government and parliament.

The judgement on a submission from the Supreme Court which had, among other points, questioned the right of the High Council of Justice to demand copies of court cases before their completion and to consider cases regarding disciplinary liability of judges in their absence, was passed on 16 June but only made public on 21 June.  The authors of the submission had contended that a number of the provisions of the Laws on the High Council of Justice, On Amendments to Some Legislative Acts regarding Prevention of Abuse of the Right of Appeal and the Code of Administrative Justice, had unwarrantedly expanded the powers of the High Council of Justice.  They asserted that “it has been given the opportunity to put pressure on judges in exercising justice, which narrows the guarantees of autonomy and independence of the courts”.

The Supreme Court had asserted that Article 117 § 5.1 of the Code of Administrative Justice which does not allow acts of the President, government and parliament to be suspended pending review of a law suit was unconstitutional.  Such suspensions were often used by administrative courts during the political crises of 2007-2008. On 10 October 2008, for example, Judge of the District Administrative Court in Kyiv, V. Keleberda suspended the force of President Yushchenko’s Decree dissolving the Verkhovna Rada following a law suit from BYUT National Deputies (see Political Monopoly)

The Constitutional Court said that the ban was linked with the importance of the activities of the President, government and parliament and the presumption that their acts and actions were constitutional, while the use of such means (as suspension of force) could lead to a violation of the rights of an indefinite number of people.

The Court’s rapporteur did not wish to give the traditional press conference, nor did the Head of the Supreme Court Vasyl Onopenko wish to comment.

From a report at Komersant Ukraine

Both the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Venice Commission have expressed concerns over the considerable extension in the powers of the High Council of Justice. (see http://www.khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1291592977 and the links below)

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