Ukraine implements new mechanisms of settling the conflict of interest in the work of judges
On 24 February, 2016, the Procedure for Control of Adherence to the Legislation Aimed to Manage the Conflict of Interest in the Work of Judges and Other Representatives of the Judiciary was presented in the Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The experts of the EU Project “Support to the Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine” presented this document jointly with the Council of Judges of Ukraine. The procedure approved by the Council of Judges on 04 February, 2016, and developed with the support of the EU Project “Support to the Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”, determines legal base for the mechanism managing the conflict of interest in the work of judges. Despite the key conflict of interest concepts and settlement methods being already enshrined in the laws, this is the first document in Ukraine to determine the methods of preventing and settling the conflict of interest in the public service in such a detailed manner. The key novelty of this document is that it introduces voluntary declaration of private interests as a way to inform about potential conflict of interest.
The document has been drafted on a basis of the experience of Lithuania, where the consistency of public and private interests of the state officials is enshrined in the laws. According to the law, each Lithuanian public official, including judges, shall submit the Private Interest Declaration indicating the information about close relatives, affiliations with legal entities and individuals, agreements, individual activities.
“This is the first regulation in our country on settling the conflict of interest in any public entity. This is a definitely positive step towards restoring trust in the judiciary,” – Valentyna Simonenko, Head of the Council of Judges of Ukraine, Judge of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, stated.
“There is a huge distrust to the public authorities, including the judiciary, in the society. This is why the judges have just demonstrated that they are ready for transparency,” – Virgilijus Valancius, Team Leader of the EU Project “Support to the Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”, noted.
The new document facilitates the establishment of mechanisms to determine private interests in the judges’ activities, to prevent actual conflict of interests and to hold the faulty persons responsible in case of breaching the relevant laws.
“We will gradually veer away from the pattern where everything depends on the laws, regardless of whether it is included in the laws or not. Instead, the judicial corps itself will handle the conflict of interest,” – said Petro Pavlychenko, National Expert of the EU Project “Support to the Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”.
“It is notable that “conflict of interest” is very often mentioned alongside the word “corruption”. Alternatively, people call the conflict of interest “the door to corruption”. That is why such mechanisms as declaring private interests should be enshrined in the law. We hope that the best European practices will soon turn into Ukrainian realities,” – emphasized Yuliya Zemlytska, National Expert of the EU Project “Support to the Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”.