Kyiv, February 19, 2016. “Over these two years, no judge who tolerated unjust decisions has been punished. This means that evil thrives and, unfortunately, wins,” said Olena Sotnyk, MP (“Samopomich” faction) at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. According to her, now there are 12 submissions on dismissal of judges who handed down unlawful decisions regarding Maidan participants in Parliament. But deputies do not make any decision even on the judges, whose guilt has been proved. “This diagnose is of a sick judicial, law enforcement and political system. It is the responsibility of specific people, members of the parliament and mine too, the responsibility of the President, the Minister of Justice, the High Council of Justice (HCJ), the High Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ),” said Olena Sotnyk. However, it should be understood that, probably, judges did not act at their own discretion, but were “accomplices of the criminal authorities,” said the MP. Nevertheless, these judge still administer justice in the name of Ukraine, she noted.
“330 judges are targeted in the Maidan case,” said Roman Maselko, lawyer, activist of NGO “Automaidan.” He said that during the Revolution of Dignity, the unlawful decisions the judges made against activists largely contributed to the radicalization of society. Roman Maselko explained that the HCJ should establish an independent professional judiciary. This is also implemented through the prosecution of judges. And the HCJ is obliged not just to say that a particular judge is guilty, but to answer the question why it happened and who was behind these processes, emphasized Roman Maselko. “However, the HCJ does the same thing as did the judges when they handed down decisions regarding the activists […]. The HCJ turns a blind eye to the problem in the judiciary system; thus it preserves the same situation, i.e. the possibility to give instructions. It only wants to punish some perpetrators, and not all,” said Mr. Maselko. He noted that currently the High Council of Justice has two vacancies, and appealed to the Parliament, which has its quota, to delegate worthy people there as soon as possible.
Markiyan Galabala, lawyer, Deputy Head of the Temporary special commission for the inspection of judges of general jurisdiction courts, noted that all decisions on the judges can be appealed “in that very Supreme Administrative Court that has not been lustrated”. According to the lawyer, among decisions, which cannot be trusted is the situation when by “manipulative use of the law” the Supreme Administrative Court concluded that the violation of the oath is a type of disciplinary action, and that is why it can be used throughout the year in the form of reprimand or other weaker type of disciplinary action. “If we compare the general conclusion of the Supreme Administrative Court on consideration of the case of releasing judges with regard to the oath violation in 2011 with the decisions of February 2016, we will see that the law has not changed, and the practice turned around 180 degrees. So what is it? Isn’t it a cover-up and unfair corporate solidarity?” said Markiyan Galabala.
Disciplinary responsibility of judges is the only opportunity that allows us to clean the judicial system and is a counterweight to a radical idea of expelling all judges and taking new ones, thinks Denys Bugai, president of the Association of Lawyers of Ukraine, partner of VB PARTNERS. “If this steam is not discharged, radicalization in the community will increase, and we will never be able to build the judicial system,” noted the lawyer. According to Denys Bugai, among the systemic problems, is the fact that the disciplinary authorities are considering complaints for years. Besides, registers of open disciplinary cases should be available on the HQCJ and HCJ websites so that the society should have this information. “Unfortunately, the Supreme Administrative Court of Ukraine adopted the practice of concealment and corporate solidarity, repealing even those individual decisions that have been made by the HCJ. In fact, this is a disservice to the judiciary system, because we lose a single format of legal protection of our rights,” said Denys Bugai.