Venice Commission not yet asked for comment on controversial court reform
The Venice Commission would be prepared to accelerate their consideration of the draft law on reform of the Judicial system but their opinion would not be earlier than September. As reported, the bill was submitted to the Verkhovna Rada by President Yanukovych and passed in its first reading.
European experts, including the new PACE Co-Rapporteur with regard to Ukraine, Mailis Reps, have stressed the need for Venice Commission review of a draft bill which has also elicited considerable criticism. The President’s Administration have also insisted that the reforms will take international experience, including recommendations from the Venice Commission into account, however the Vice-President of the Commission, Thomas Markert told the Ukrainian Service of Deutsche Welle on Tuesday that no request has been received from the President.
The Venice Commission has on many occasions already analysed draft laws on judicial reform. Mr Markert believes that the system is too complicated and Ukraine needs to simplify its system of administrative courts especially with regard to appeals. He says that the present system with up to 4 appeal stages is too many, and that there are normally no more than three.
He also says that the powers of some courts are not clearly enough stipulated, and that courts not infrequently take on cases outside their jurisdiction. The powers of the High Administrative Court need to be clarified. There needs also to be a clear dividing line – which cases are sent to the High Administrative Court and which to the Supreme Court. He sees no need to reduce the powers of the Supreme Court.
The Head of the Supreme Court Vasyl Onopenko has stated that he would be prepared to resign in protest over significant reductions in the powers of the Supreme Court as foreseen in President Yanukovych’s draft bill.
Abridged from a report at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5659590,00.html