On Friday, November 22, the Council of Judges will select three members of the Selection Board that will assess candidates for the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ). It is they who will decide whether the HQCJ will consist of worthy representatives.
Full reboot of the HQCJ is one of the key stages of the judicial reform initiated by President Zelenskyy. The previous composition of the High Qualification Commission of Judges failed the task set back after the Revolution of Dignity: to cleanse the judiciary and fill it with people characterized by integrity.
The HQCJ greenlighted judges who could not explain the origin of their wealth, failed to disclose information on their property and made arbitrary decisions. The HQCJ recommended numerous questionable candidates for the Supreme Court despite negative opinions of them by the Public Integrity Council. The Commission has also failed to find ways to resolve the problem of lack of human resources in the judiciary.
The new composition of the HQCJ will be formed by a Selection Board, half of which is composed of Council of Judges representatives. Unfortunately, among Council members, there are also judges who have property issues and a history of arbitrary decisions and ethical violations.
For instance, Olena Zhurakivska participated in persecutions of activists during the Revolution of Dignity, Yurii Vlasov and Oleksii Koteniov have clearly inexplicable assets, Serhii Yeremeichuk, Oksana Savenko and Vadym Butenko had negative opinions concerning them by the Public Integrity Council, and Oleh Holovenko actually failed his exam.
It is obvious that such judges cannot assess the integrity of candidates and make decisions about the Selection Board which can later initiate their own dismissal.
That is why we urge the members of the Council of Judges to delegate such representatives to the Selection Board who would meet the highest ethical standards and integrity criteria, and whose reputation is not questioned by their colleagues or the civil society. This will define the public trust in the new HQCJ and success of the next steps of the reform initiated by the President.
Anti-Corruption Action Center
Center of Policy and Legal Reform
Transparency International Ukraine