Foto af Wesley Tingey hos Unsplash

The head of the European Commission for Democracy through Law commonly known as the Venice Commission has criticized Ukraine’s two judicial reform bills.

The controversial judicial reforms implemented by the Zelensky administration has now received criticism from Gianni Buquicchio, who yesterday called for foreign expertise, according to Kyiv Post.

“The bill (on the High Qualification Commission) does not meet the Venice Commission recommendations and we do not support it,”  he said. “The High Council of Justice needs to be vetted before it is entrusted with the setting up of the High Qualification Commission. This is imperative or judicial reform will be doomed,” Buquicchio said.

Buquicchio is not the first to criticize the reforms which are designed to reform the High Council of Justice and the High Qualification Commission of Judges. Activists and experts alike have slammed on the legislation saying it will not work and it is in conflict with Ukrainian commitment to IMF.

The reforms

The first readings of the reform has been approved. First of all they will be selecting a new High Qualification Commission of Judges consisting of three judges and three foreign experts, who will decide whether or not a person can become a judge.

The problem, some say, is that four of the panellists are required for approval of a candidate, which some fear will mean that the Ukrainian members of the commission might block reform friendly candidates.

The other bill is for the High Council of Justice. This bill would introduce an Ethics Council again made up by three Ukrainian judges and three foreign experts. They have the power to suspend High Council of Justice members, if they violate ethics and integrity standards.

Again, some fear that the division – 3 Ukrainians and 3 foreigners – could mean that the Ukrainian judges might block a suspension of a tainted judge. To sum it up, the fear is that in one bill, a single judge is enough to keep good candidates from becoming judges, while in the other bill, a single judge is enough to keep corrupt judges at the helm.

Judicial reform remains a challenge