The move is supported by the West, and if the reform is successful, it could help address some of the problems that companies face with corruption in courts.
The Ukrainian parliament yesterday passed the second reading of a bill, which aims at giving foreign experts an essential role in the country’s new judicial reform. It is a step, which foreign organizations and institutions have welcomed.
Among other things, foreign experts will get veto power when it comes to selecting candidates for the High Qualification Commission, which is the body that hires and fires judges in the Ukrainian judicial system. High Qualification Commission, a powerful institution, has previously been accused of being inefficient and corrupt.
The International Monetary Fund, IMF, has previously required that foreign experts have a crucial role in selecting judges and the bill seems to meet the requirements by the IMF, which, however, haven’t commented yet. In addition, the so-called Venice Commission (the European Commission for Democracy through Law) has also stated the bill’s importance.
Not everything is great
According to Kyiv Post, while the second hearing in parliament was a success, not everything is excellent. The paper points out that the High Council of Justice, which can recruit members for the High Qualification Commission, keep a lot of influence. The High Council of Justice has also been accused of being corrupt by several organizations.
“We welcome lawmakers’ decision to give independent international experts a crucial role in the selection of the High Qualification Commission,” said Mykhailo Zhernakov, head of legal think-tank DEJURE, according to Kyiv Post “… However, the bill leaves room for manipulation by the corrupt High Council of Justice.”
The judiciary reform in Ukraine is high on President Zelensky’s agenda, but the reform still needs final approval and implementation. Zelensky has previously tried to reform the Ukrainian judiciary back in 2019, but it stranded and never got implemented.
Parliament moving forward
However, the second passing of the bill is seen as a positive move, and the parliament also approved amendments to legislation, which will strengthen the independence of the National Bank of Ukraine, yesterday, according to Reuters. Recently, the independence of the National Bank of Ukraine has been questioned after steps taken by the President last year, which we also have written about at Ukrainenu.
Among others, the Director of the Swedish bank SEB, Kristian Andersson, has expressed concern. Therefore, the new amendments might be welcomed by foreign observers, and the amendments to the legislation are a requirement by the International Monetary Fund if the five billion dollars loan program, signed last year, is to be resumed.
The new amendments exclude the possibility of government members attending the National Bank of Ukraine meetings and increase the number of deputy heads from five to six. The bill also makes precise requirements for the supervisory boards of commercial banks, according to Reuters, and gives the National Bank of Ukraine more control over the activities of significant bank owners and top managers.