The Venice Commission has concluded that bill No. 6011 on anti-corruption courts drafted by MP Oksana Syroyid and MP Yehor Sobolev (both from Samopomich faction) and Serhiy Leschenko (of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc Faction) should be withdrawn.
According to the Venice Commission’s opinion, which was posted on its website, bill on anti-corruption courts No. 6011, which is currently under consideration in the parliament, should be withdrawn. Instead, the commission suggests Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko submit a bill to the Verkhovna Rada on his own behalf which will be based on the recommendations contained in their opinion.
In general, the Venice Commission gives a positive assessment of the judicial reform conducted by Ukraine. Thus, the Commission welcomes the efforts that have already been undertaken to implement the standards of the Council of Europe and the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
In its findings, the Venice Commission notes the need to create an anti-corruption court in Ukraine, but at the same time warns against politicizing the process of selecting judges. In particular, it notes that additional guarantees should be introduced to ensure that the procedure for appointing judges is independent of the executive and legislative powers.
Taking into account the “specific situation” in Ukraine, the international involvement in the procedure of the selection of judges may be justified, but such participation must be held with due regard to the principle of Ukraine’s sovereignty, the commission said.
The judges of the Anti-Corruption Court “need to be specialized and experienced, adequately protected and, in line with the spirit of the ongoing judicial reform, selected in a way which provides strong safeguards for their integrity and independence.”
Analyzing bill No. 6011 on anti-corruption courts, the Venice Commission noted that deviations from the general rules for the appointment of judges should be limited only to what is necessary for the efficient functioning of anti-corruption courts. Also, one should avoid the possible impression that judges of anti-corruption court are regarded as ‘special’ or ‘extraordinary’. The level of remuneration of judges of the High Anti-Corruption Court should be reviewed. Their salaries should correspond to the increased requirements of their office, but should not be much higher than that of the judges of general courts.
According to the opinion of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), specialist judges and courts ‘should always remain a part of a single judicial body as a whole’ and ‘in principle, generalist and specialist judges should be of equal status’ (e.g. with respect to rules of ethics and liability).