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22.01.2013

Strasbourg ruling on Supreme Court judge may not be enforced

   

The clearly unconstitutional practice by Ukrainian parliamentarians of "voting" for (large numbers of) truant party colleagues was one of the reasons for a damning European Court of Human Rights judgement

Ukraine’s Justice Minister, Oleksander Lavrynovych has said that Ukraine may not reinstate Oleksander Volkov to his post as Supreme Court Judge as ordered by the European Court of Human Rights.  Enforcement of ECHR judgements is mandatory for all signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, and failure to comply would incur penalties.  It could also lead to sanctions being imposed by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Lavrynovych told Radio Svoboda that he doubts whether specific parts of the judgement will be enforced. “I understand that the judges have their positions which they decided to make the basis of this judgement, however they weren’t overly concerned how it could be done. I therefore have great doubts whether this judgement will be fully implemented as written there”.

Radio Svoboda spoke to former Human Rights Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova who pointed out that these judgements are mandatory, and to Viktor Shvets, First Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Policy.  He said that if the Justice Minister had any conscience, he would resign after making such remarks.

Serhiy Holovaty, at one time himself Justice Minister, says that it’s the taxpayer whom such non-enforcement hits the hardest. He calls non-enforcement standard practice leading to even further penalties.

The compensation awarded by the European Court of Human Rights to victims of the authorities’ violations of human rights is also steep.  In just one day on 17 January, the Court handed down judgements against Ukraine, with the State ordered to pay victims over 1 million EUR.

The Government’s Representative at the ECHR, , Nazar Kulchytsky has said that they will be lodging an appeal.  The judgement which Lavrynovych and his government colleagues find unpalatable was indeed an indictment of recent judicial reforms, as well as of the totally unconstitutional practice by Ukrainian parliamentarians of not turning up in the Verkhovna Rada, with their colleagues using the truants’ cards to “vote” for them. 

Some of the most controversial and dangerous bills adopted in 2012 were “voted on” in such fashion. 

On 9 January the Court announced its judgement that the dismissal of Supreme Court Judge Oleksandr Volkov in 2010 by the High Court of Justice had involved four violations of the right to a fair trial (Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights  and a violation of the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8). 

The Court found, among other things, that the vote in Parliament on his dismissal had been unlawful.  The dismissal required a vote in favour by at least 226 MPs, and there had simply not been that many MPs physically present in parliament. “

As reported,   Stanislav Shevchuk, Acting Judge from Ukraine at the European Court of Human Rights, has said that other laws adopted using other MPs’ cards could be revoked by the European Court.  He points out that this is a clear violation of Ukraine’s Constitution which states that MPs must vote in person.

“What the Ukrainian government should do immediately after the European Court judgement is to stop the voting by “pianists” (with hands stretching over many “octaves” or seats – translator) in parliament. That would be the most effective means of implementing the court judgement”,

He noted also that the Court’s revoking of the decision to dismiss Volkov could form a precedent for cancelling laws adopted with analogous violations. 

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