Halyna Chyzhyk: The Public Integrity Council doesn’t have its views on the notion of integrity…

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On October 24-25, 2017, a conference “Competition to the New Supreme Court: Best Practices, Lessons Learned, and Prospects” has been conducted in Kyiv.

The event has lasted for 2 days, and was divided into 8 thematic sessions. A number of media, including “Sudova Pravda”, began publishing the key theses of the participants of the discussion at each of the sessions.

But we propose to pay attention to the very interesting statement of Halyna Chyzhyk, the co-coordinator of the Public Integrity Council, who began her speech with the phrase: “The Public Integrity Council is the result of a critical level of the citizens’ distrust of the judiciary”. She also noted that the idea of the Public Integrity Council was not a new one. So, in the US, the American Bar Association also gives opinions on a candidate for a judge position. Lithuania also has a similar procedure. Then Ms. Chyzhyk told that the Public Integrity Council was the body that was 100% composed of the representatives of the public. However, this body does not make a final decision on the candidate, and its decisions are recommendatory in nature.

And then there was the most interesting: “From the very beginning and up to present, the Public Integrity Council had to develop its own criteria of integrity. However, the Public Integrity Council doesn’t have its views on the notion of integrity. Our handbook is the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, which contains the values that should guide the judges in their work”.

Seriously? Ms. Chyzhyk, haven’t you forgotten anything?

And what about the fact that the Bangalore Principles are not a panacea for the integrity of judges in general? As the requirements for observance of established international ethical standards related to the status of a judge are also provided for in a number of other international documents. Among them, for example, are the following:

  • Judges’ Charter in Europe, approved by the European Association of Judges on March 20, 1993;
  • The Universal Charter of the Judge, approved by the International Association of Judges on November 17, 1999;
  • Magna Carta of Judges (Fundamental Principles), adopted in Strasbourg, November 17-19, 2010;
  • European Charter on the statute for judges (adopted at the multilateral meeting devoted to the status of judges in Europe, organized by the Council of Europe on July, 8-10, 1998);
  • Opinion (2001) 1 of the Consultative Council of European Judges for the attention of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on standards concerning the independence of the judiciary and the irremovability of judges dated January, 1, 2001;
  • Opinion (2002) 3 of the Consultative Council of European Judges for the attention of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the principles and rules governing judges’ professional conduct, in particular ethics, incompatible behaviour and impartiality;
  • Opinion (2014) 17 of the Consultative Council of European Judges for the attention of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on the evaluation of judges’ work, the quality of justice and respect for judicial independence.

Does the Public Integrity Council even know about these documents?

In addition, it should be just stated that neither the Law of Ukraine “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges” nor the Code of Judicial Ethics nor the same Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct can foresee and determine all life situations that will arise as while executing justice, so as in the out-of-court behavior of a judge.

And if we have already become concerned with the activities of the Public Integrity Council, other speakers also went through the format of the work of this Council, and it must be pointed out that:

  • the Public Integrity Council does not have its own formalized criteria for giving a conclusion on a particular candidate (although the Regulation of the Public Integrity Council contains such a concept as “algorithm for collecting, checking and analyzing candidate information”);
  • the Public Integrity Council does not provide for the right of the candidate for a response (the Public Integrity Council did not provide for a mechanism of familiarizing the candidates with the draft conclusion on them. Also, after the candidate has familiarized himself with such a draft conclusion it would be logical to provide for the possibility of explanations from the candidate);
  • the Public Integrity Council has no single methodology for preparing documents (some of them may differ by their contents, as well as on the basis of their visual appeal).
  • the Public Integrity Council did not even think about the issue of protection of personal data in the electronic database of the Public Integrity Council.

But in general Halyna Chyzhyk is right: a similar mechanism does exist in other countries as well.

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