Ukraine's parliament passes Zelensky's judicial reform
The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has adopted a presidential bill amending a number of laws regulating the country's judiciary.
Bill No. 1008 was backed by 236 MPs out of 387 registered in the session hall, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
Law "On the judicial system and the status of judges" establishes that the Supreme Court shall consist of no more than 100 judges (earlier, it was "no more than 200").
It determines the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) as a permanent state collegial body of judicial administration, consisting of 12 members (previously 16), who shall be appointed by the High Council of Justice following a competition for a period of four years.
Applicants for positions in the Commission shall be citizens of Ukraine in command of the state language, with a degree in law and at least 15 years of professional experience in the field. Also, they must meet the criterion of political neutrality.
It is the High Council of Justice that forms a competition commission, which includes three members elected by the Council of Judges of Ukraine from among its members, and another three members from among international experts proposed by international organizations with which Ukraine cooperates in the field of preventing and combating corruption as part of the Public Council of International Experts.
The bill introduces a new ground for the dismissal of HQCJ members, namely gross or systematic neglect of duties that is incompatible with their status, his inconsistency with his position, other behaviors that undermine the credibility and public trust in justice and the judiciary, including non-compliance with the ethical standards of a judge.
The decision on the dismissal of a member of the Commission is made by the High Council of Justice at its meeting by a majority of votes from its composition.
The decision to dismiss a member of the High Council of Justice shall be considered adopted, if the motion is not rejected at the HQJC's joint meeting with the Integrity and Ethics Commission, by a majority vote, provided that it is backed by at least two international experts, namely members of the Integrity and Ethics Commission.
It is also established the basic salary of a judge of the Supreme Court shall amount to 55 (previously 75) living wages for able-bodied persons, set for January 1 of the corresponding calendar year.
Law "On the High Council of Justice" establishes the High Council of Justice appoints and dismisses HQJC members, decides on the dismissal of its members, approves the procedure for compiling a qualifying exam and the methodology for evaluating its results, the procedure for passing the qualification exam and the methodology for candidate vetting, the regulation on holding a competition for a vacant judge position, the procedure and methodology for qualification assessment, the procedure for the formation and maintenance of a court dossier.
Members of the HCJ in their work and beyond must comply with the ethical standards established for judges.
The law is supplemented by an article regarding the Integrity and Ethics Commission, a collegial body that operates under the High Council of Justice and is formed to ensure transparency and accountability of the members of the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges.
The Commission consists of three members of the High Council of Justice and three international experts proposed by international organizations with which Ukraine cooperates in the field of preventing and combating corruption in accordance with international treaties of Ukraine, as part of the Public Council of international experts.
Among the main tasks of the Commission is assessing compliance of a member or a candidate to the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges with the principles of integrity and ethical standards of judges, which are an integral part of the professional ethics and control over the transparency of the relevant bodies.
The Commission should also monitor information about judges of the Supreme Court to identify disciplinary violations, judges' gross or systematic neglect of their duties, their incompatibility with the status of a judge or their inconsistency with the position, violation of the obligation to confirm the legality of the source of assets.
In particular, the Commission has the right to collect, verify and analyze information, including confidential and personal information, about members of the High Council of Justice, other state institutions and local authorities, enterprises, and organizations necessary to carry out their tasks, except for information that is defined by law as classified/confidential information.
Disciplinary proceedings may be launched after a complaint is received about a disciplinary misconduct by a judge, a report on a disciplinary misconduct by a judge, or after the members of the High Council of Justice reveal circumstances that may indicate that a judge has committed a disciplinary misconduct, or on the initiative of the Disciplinary Chamber, the Integrity and Ethics Commission, or the High Qualification Commission of Judges in cases defined by law.
Disciplinary proceedings against judges shall be carried out by the disciplinary chambers of the High Council of Justice. Disciplinary proceedings shall be carried out within a reasonable term. The term for disciplinary proceedings shall not exceed 60 days from the receipt of a disciplinary complaint.
The law enters into force on the day following the day of its publication, except for subparagraph 17 of paragraph 2 of section I, which shall enter into force on January 1, 2020.
From the day the law comes into force, the powers of members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges shall be terminated, and the head of the Commission secretariat shall be appointed based on the results of the competition taking into account the requirements of the law.
Within 90 days from the date of entry into force of the law, the High Council of Justice shall form the composition of the Commission according to the results of the competition and decide on the approval of the composition of the Integrity and Ethics Commission.