There is a great risk that unscrupulous candidates may come to the new Supreme Court of Ukraine, as the High Council of Justice (HCJ) has in fact ignored the public admonition. This was stated by representatives of the Public Integrity Council (PIC) at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Yesterday, September 25, the HCJ completed the consideration of 120 candidates for the positions of judges of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, recommended for appointment by the High Qualifications Commission of Judges (HQCJ). Currently, SCJ members are making their final decision in the meeting room. The exact date of the announcement of the decision is unknown.
According to the conclusions of the Public Integrity Council, 30 of 120 candidates, that is, every fourth, do not meet the criteria of integrity or professional ethics, said Roman Maselko, representative of the PIC. The conclusions are based solely on the facts provided by competent authorities, including NABU. Among such judges are Vyacheslav Nastavnyi and Serhiy Slynko, who considered a criminal case against the current Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko several years ago. Other candidates for the Supreme Court judge are Oleksandr Zolotnikov, who banned peaceful gatherings in the center of Odesa during the Revolution of Dignity, and “forgot” to mention this in the declaration of integrity; judges Chervinska and Stupak, whose possessions do not match incomes; Alla Lesko and Valentyna Simonenko.
According to the activists, it is not known which of their recommendations were considered by the High Council of Justice and which were rejected. The grounds for making decisions are not clear either. “There are about 40 candidates, on whom the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine provided negative information. It did not become a conclusion only because the PIC had no authority and resources to check it properly. We do not know how this information was checked, what conclusions were made, what this check found,” emphasized Vitalii Tytych, co-coordinator of the PIC.
The Public Integrity Council has never had the opportunity to speak at the HCJ meetings during which interviews with candidates are conducted. Although it was known that among the HCJ members were people with competing interests, they remained to be part of the HCJ. “In 52 cases, the members of the High Council of Justice have stated that they will not be able to take an objective decision on certain candidates because of a lack of impartiality and a possible conflict of interests. However, only in 4 out of 52 cases the HJC as a collegiate body accepted withdrawal of some members of the High Council Justice. […] Everything points to the fact that the High Council of Justice is not aimed at forming the truly new virtuous Supreme Court,” stated Halyna Chyzhyk.
Halyna Chyzhyk reminded that shortly before the High Council of Justice officially declared its readiness for cooperation. “The High Council of Justice has confirmed that it is not only ready to cooperate with the PIC, but also considers it necessary to involve the representatives of the Public Council of Integrity in their meetings to remove any questions regarding the integrity of the candidates,” she said.
Natalia Sokolenko, representative of the Public Integrity Council, reminded that, in accordance with Article 79 of the Law “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges,” the High Council of Justice shall reject the petition for the appointment of a judge, if there are substantiated doubts as to his compliance with the criteria of integrity and professional ethics, or other circumstances that may adversely affect public confidence in the judiciary.
“Each of the candidates, who has received a negative opinion will provoke comments that the Supreme Court that is absolutely no different from the current state of the judiciary. He will negate any positive brought by this contest. This “group of 30 dishonest persons” has no right to be in the Supreme Court. Their membership in the Supreme Court will “kill” confidence in the new, but not renewed Supreme Court,” emphasized Roman Maselko. – Hopefully, the HCJ understands under which socio-political circumstances it is working and what hopes civil society puts on it.”
“We appeal to the HCJ members: if somebody put pressure on you, please, inform us about this. We will support you, we will involve the press and law enforcement agencies. But act lawfully. We, the members of the Public Council of Integrity, and all other people who support the reform and the birth of the truly new Supreme Court in Ukraine, will not calm down if we see bad results,” emphasized Ms. Sokolenko.