The European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) has issued an Opinion on draft amendments to the Law on the judiciary and the status of judges and certain laws on the activities of the Supreme Court and judicial authorities (Bill No. 3711).

It has welcomed the proposal to set up a Competition Committee for the HQCJ re-composition with the participation of international experts.

"The Venice Commission seizes this opportunity to reiterate that in line with European standards such a reduction of the number of judges of the Supreme Court in any case could not terminate the tenure of sitting judges of the Supreme Court, except if a ground of premature termination exists, which is in line with the Constitution," the opinion reads.

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"For any reorganisation of the Supreme Court the basic principles concerning the irremovability of judges have to be respected," says the Venice Commission.

The Commission has welcomed the focus of Draft Law No.3711 on re-composition of the High Qualification Commission of Judges aimed at renewing the procedure for selecting judges of first and second instances, and noted that the bill submitted aims to make the HQCJ subordinate to the High Council of Judges.

"However, the relationship between these bodies should be addressed only in the framework of a wider reform," the opinion states. "Until then, the HCJ should not obtain wider powers in respect of the HQCJ."

Read alsoThe Economist: Ukraine's anti-corruption court bares its teethAs Draft Law No. 3711 establishes a Competition Committee for the re-composition of the HQCJ, the Venice Commission welcomes that the Committee's composition "builds on its earlier opinions, especially as concerns the participation of international experts."

In view of the urgent character of draft law No. 3711 and the prospects of a wider reform, Draft Law No. 3711 should remain restricted to re-establishing the HQCJ only, the Venice Commission stresses. "No new competences should be attributed to the HCJ," it concludes.

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