First politicians against “defamation”, now judges
The Council of Judges has issued an appeal to the media in which it complains about what it considers excessively critical publications on the Ukrainian judicial system. The judges complain that journalists increasingly “discredit their work and undermine the authority of the justice system”.
“There are not just isolated cases of arbitrary interpretation of the circumstances of a case with the conclusion that the court was biased being based on information provided by one of the parties to the proceedings”.
In response to this, Roman Kabachiy from the Institute for Mass Information says: “When judges make no comment, do not provide access to the courtroom, give formal fob-offs, journalists have no choice but to describe what they see with their own eyes”.
Roman Kuybida from the Centre for Political and Legal Reform says that judges now have the reputation of not being impartial, this being a result of the incomplete judicial reform which began in 2010. He explains that the Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges which judges so upheld has made them dependent.
“That reform has led to the justice system being controlled by politicians. The level of critical material in the media has increased following the high-profile trials of Lutsenko and Tymoshenko. It is the justice system itself that gives the grounds for such criticism.”
Roman Kuybida notes that the Venice Commission has repeated drawn Ukraine’s attention to the failings of the judicial system following the change in legislation in 2010, and yet the situation in the courts remains unchanged. He says that the judicial reforms then achieved only one thing - covert increase in control of judges.