Accounting Chamber finds loss of independence for Ukrainian judges
The Accounting Chamber of Ukraine has carried out an audit of the system for planning judges and found that existing normative legal documents are equivocal, precluding a single interpretation. This results in discrepancies as far as judges’ pay is concerned, and therefore the constitutional guarantees for their independence are lost.
Failings in the legal system for regulating remuneration create a number of legal clashes. The audit showed development of a single mechanism for calculating and paying judges had been stalled. At the same time the State guaranteed sizes of payment for general jurisdiction judges were gradually being reduced leading to judges on a wide scale lodging suits to defend their rights.
The Accounting Chamber has drawn the government’s attention to the fact that the failings in the mechanism for paying judges are retained in the next budgetary period. Judges will again be directly dependent on court fees for cases which they are examining. Spending on remuneration will be at the expense of funds from a special fund of the State budget.
However the Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges clearly states that budget allocations on the upkeep of the courts are protected articles of the budget. Funding of remuneration from a special fund places independent court proceedings in jeopardy. Court fees, according to legislation, are for coving court costs, not paying salaries.
The Accounting Chamber would stress that in order to maintain and exercise the constitutional guarantees of independence of judges spending on their pay must be derived solely from the general State budget. After all, judges’ salaries are not only a form of financial remuneration, but also a means for countering corruption.