The High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine is sick of the destructive position of activists. The official answer

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According to the press service of the HQCJU, the activists of the Public Integrity Council inadequately performed in fulfilling their responsibilities. In particular, “in 17 cases the Public Integrity Council used unreliable sources of information. At least in 21 cases the Public Integrity Council has resorted to reassessing the court decisions on candidates which the Public Integrity Council wasn’t empowered to do”. Eventually if the members of the Public Integrity Council think that they have not coped with the task assigned to them during the competition, they have the right to withdraw from the board and give the opportunity for other experts to work there.

The full text of the appeal is published on the site http://vkksu.gov.ua.

“In the framework of the competition to the Supreme Court, the Public Integrity Council exceeds its powers and demands this from the President of Ukraine. As a result of the judicial reform, all political institutions have lost the opportunity to influence the appointment or dismissal of judges. From now on the dismissal or appointment of judges belongs exclusively to the powers of the Supreme Council of Justice. The President can only sign a Decree on appointment of judges; he cannot return it or not sign it. There is no need to call on the President to take unlawful actions.

If the members of the Public Integrity Council consider they have not coped with the task assigned to them during the competition, they have the right to withdraw from the board and give the opportunity for other experts to work there.

Such statements mean that an experiment with the empowering of a public body to influence the outcome of the competition may not be successful. That’s why no country in Europe has a public body that would influence the results of the assessment of judges in the administrative procedure. Europe understands that PR shouldn’t be confused with the respect to the court. By starting a judicial reform, building a court from a blank sheet, one cannot abuse the powers and damage the reputation of future judges. Such a situation may lead to the fact that in the future the Public Integrity Council will start controlling the decisions issued by the judges of the Supreme Court.

The Public Integrity Council is the body that should assist in analyzing the candidate’s profile. It cannot decide as the last instance and determine who is honest and who is not. The Public Integrity Council is just one of the competition tools.

The HQCJU selected 120 winners on the results of a complex public competition, the Supreme Council of Justice recommended 111 people of them.

At the same time, the Public Integrity Council puts forward an ultimatum to agree with all the conclusions and to remove those candidates whom the members of the Public Integrity Council don’t like. The members of the Public Integrity Council behave as if the competition entirely depends on their opinion, while other factors – exams, tests, interviews, expert competency assessment are irrelevant. We remind you that the Public Integrity Council prepared 146 conclusions on candidates to the Supreme Court. Only 30 candidates with such conclusions became the winners of the competition, pre-refuting the reasoning of the Public Integrity Council and demonstrating the groundlessness of the charges brought against them.

Experts from the Council of Europe and the European Union have prepared several critical reports on the quality of the work of the Public Integrity Council, while the representatives of the Public Integrity Council completely ignore them.

According to a report prepared by leading Ukrainian lawyers jointly with the Council of Europe, in 17 cases the Public Integrity Council used unreliable sources of information. At least in 21 cases the Public Integrity Council has resorted to reassessing the court decisions on candidates which the Public Integrity Council wasn’t empowered to do. In 20 cases, irrelevant information was used, and in 17 cases the information that was not subject to verification was used. There were also four cases of unequal approach to the assessment of specific facts and circumstances.

The report of the Council of Europe experts on the Regulation of the Public Integrity Council states:

  • The Public Integrity Council only contributes to the work of the HQCJU in matters relating to the qualification assessment of judges, but the Public Integrity Council cannot make a final decision on the integrity or professional ethics of the individual judge;
  • The Public Integrity Council can only conclude about the professional ethics and integrity of the judge, and not the validity of his or her decisions or actions;
  • A negative conclusion should always be based only on verified information.

It should be noted that the Commission acted exclusively in accordance with the methodology approved before the beginning of the competition, and issued relevant final decisions. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Council of Europe and international observers highly appreciated the quality of the Commission’s first competition to the Supreme Court.

We call on all civil society to scrutinize the facts.

Press service of the HQCJU

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