Politics 2024-06-15T05:14:56+03:00
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Supreme Court Head Accuses Smyrnov Of Trying To Disrupt Congress To Elect HCJ. He Reacts - Media

Supreme Court Head Accuses Smyrnov Of Trying To Disrupt Congress To Elect HCJ. He Reacts - Media

Ukraine, supreme court, High Council of Justice, HCJ, judicial reform, Congress of Judges, President's Office, Ethics Council, Vsevolod Kniazev, judicial reform in Ukraine, Andrii Smyrnov

The Head of the Supreme Court Vsevolod Kniazev said that the words of the Deputy Head of the Office of the President Andrii Smyrnov about the list of candidates for the positions of members of the High Council of Justice (HCJ) approved by the Ethics Council could harm the judicial reform in Ukraine. Smyrnov replied that not only he, but also anti-corruption organizations questioned the quality of the candidates.

This is reported by RBC-Ukraine with reference to Kniazev in an interview with hromadske.

Kniazev meant Smyrnov's comment from November 13 of last year, where he said: "If the Ethics Council, whose head is a current judge of the Supreme Court, chooses 16 people as candidates for the HCJ, 7 of whom are current judges of the same Supreme Court, and this is perceived by society, then everything is fine."

According to Kniazev, such statements were negatively received by the judicial community. Moreover, they could be the reason for the non-election of new members of the HCJ at the Congress of Judges.

"If our European integration task was to form the High Council of Justice, and one of the heads of the President's Office actually criticizes the stages of the process that are included in the reform of the HCJ, this demotivates judges to participate in the congress, to elect new members of the HCJ," said the head of the Supreme Court.

He also added that, in the end, this could be the reason for the failure of the formation of the High Council of Justice and failure to fulfill the second European integration requirement in the list of requirements sent by the European Commission. The head of the Supreme Court considered such actions "even more destructive."

Kniazev drew attention to the fact that not all of the seven Supreme Court judges received the support of the Congress of Judges and became members of the HCJ. But international partners have a decisive voice in the work of the Ethics Council, as the head of the Supreme Court noted.

In his turn, Andrii Smyrnov, in a commentary for RBC-Ukraine, replied that the work of the Ethics Council was criticized by anti-corruption organizations such as the Center for Combating Corruption or DEJURE. He only drew attention to the key points through which society can question the work of the Ethics Council, Smyrnov says.

"It is very unfortunate to realize that we have different understandings of judicial reform and European integration. The reform is moving and will move even more actively. I would like to emphasize that the work of all advisory bodies, including the Ethics Council, should be built exclusively on trust in these bodies," he said.

The deputy head of the President's Office also confirmed that he made such a comment on November 13, 2022 and "moreover, this is exactly what he told the Ambassadors of the Group of Seven, who were interested in the results and effectiveness of the work of the Ethics Council."

"Also, one cannot fail to notice that already after the decision of the Ethics Council regarding the candidates for the HCJ, the most active public organizations involved in judicial reform examination publicly questioned the quality of the candidates. But it is as it is. Self-improvement should not stop. In general, the congress of judges ended, and the judges were able to elect 8 members of the HCJ," Smyrnov summarized.

The publication reminds that on November 9, 2021, the composition of the Ethics Council was formed, which must determine whether a candidate for the position of a member of the High Council of Justice meets the criteria of professional ethics and integrity.

HCJ is a collegial and independent body of judicial governance, which consists of 21 members. Ten of them are elected at the Congress of Judges of Ukraine from among current or retired judges.

Two members each are elected by the President, the Verkhovna Rada, the congress of lawyers, the All-Ukrainian conference of prosecutors, and the congress of representatives of legal higher educational institutions and scientific institutions. The Head of the Supreme Court is also part of the HCJ.

The High Council of Justice will appoint members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HCCJ), who will be elected for a term of four years based on the results of the competition.

The HCCJ will, in its turn, deal with the selection of new and re-certification of current judges. The law stipulates that the HCCJ should consist of 16 members, eight of whom will be elected from among judges or retired judges.