On 13 August, the presentation of the draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine regarding the Judiciary was held at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center. It was presented by the members of the Working group dealing with the Judiciary issues within the Constitutional Commission of Ukraine.
According to Olexiy Filatov, Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine and Head of the Working group, Constitutional reform is a basis for reforming the justice system. He noted that Constitutional amendments had covered improvement of standards for judges, optimization of the judiciary and bringing the justice system in compliance with the European standards. “The main problem now is the independence of judges. Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine are the important step to achieve it. The idea is to establish High Council of Justice – an independent body comprised of 21 member which will be responsible for appointing and dismissing judges,” – said Mr. Filatov.
Virgilijus Valančius, Team Leader of the EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”, positively evaluated the draft constitutional amendments. “I agree with the conclusions of the Venice Commission – new amendments should strengthen independence of the judiciary. Potential influence on judges from the side of political power will diminish. The draft amendments could be considered as a serious prerequisite for the judiciary to serve for the people,” – noted Dr. Valančius.
On 24 July, the Venice Commission released the Preliminary Opinion of the European Commission Democracy Through Law in which the proposals on amending the Constitution prepared by the Working group on justice of the Constitutional Commission of Ukraine was positive assessed. The Venice Commission welcomed eliminating the Verkhovna Rada from the process of the appointment of judges; abolition of probation period for the judges, excluding the breach of oath from the list of the grounds of the judges’ dismissal; implementing competitive basis of the appointment of judges, forming of the High Council of Justice provided the majority of its members are elected by the judges; reforms of the prosecutors’ offices and providing their independence and also stripping prosecutors’ offices of the right to carry out general supervision.