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Venice Commission gives its opinion on judicial reform in Ukraine.

The European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) has given an overall positive opinion on the draft law on judiciary and status of judges and some laws of Ukraine on the activities of the Supreme Court and judicial authorities.

“Draft Law No. 3711, which aims to improve procedures of the formation and functioning of the bodies of the judicial governance, is only a part of a step in the right direction,” reads the Opinion of the Venice Commission released on October 9.

The international experts underscored the urgent need to fill some 2000 judicial vacancies, which could be done through re-establishing the High Qualifications Commission of Judges.

“A serious problem facing the Ukrainian judiciary at the moment is the enormous amount of vacancies for judicial posts, related to the non-functioning of the High Qualification Commission of Judges. In addition, there is the unresolved issue of the alignment of the Supreme Court,” the opinion reads.

The experts also recommend addressing urgently the issue of the integrity and ethics of the High Council of Justice, though this is not covered in draft Law No. 3711.

The Venice Commission also stressed that the new HQCJ should have full autonomy.

In August 2020, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmytro Razumkov requested an opinion of the Venice Commission on compliance of draft amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges” and certain laws on the activities of the Supreme Court and Judicial Authorities” (No. 3711) with European standards and values.

By its decision of 11 March 2020, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine recognized a number of provisions of draft amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges” as unconstitutional and recommended that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine immediately bring the draft amendments in line with the Court’s ruling.

On 19 June 2020, the President submitted to the Verkhovna Rada bill No. 3711 as an urgent.

The High Council of Justice, the Council of Judges of Ukraine, the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and the Committee on Legal Policy of the Verkhovna Rada supported bill No. 3711.

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