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Commission’s discretion in evaluation and selection procedures is balanced - the report of EU experts

Commission’s discretion in evaluation and selection procedures is balanced - the report of EU experts

On November 23, 2018, members of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine participated in the presentation of the report “Selection and Evaluation of Judges in Ukraine” (hereinafter the Report).

After analyzing procedures of evaluation and selection of judges in Ukraine carried out by the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine within the framework of the judicial reform, experts of the EU Project “Pravo-Justice” came to the conclusion that Commission’s discretion is balanced and is in accordance with procedural safeguards.

The Report says: “Since computers cannot make a final decision as to who will be a good judge, we believe that some discretion should remain for persons authorized to make decisions, for example, those who are members of the HQCJ. It is they who should select candidates best eligible for the position chosen”.

Experts, in particular, noted that there are many procedural guarantees providing an adequate balance of the HQCJ’s discretion in adopting decisions on a judge’s career, namely:

  • availability of detailed methodology and rules;
  • automated testing at different stages of the procedure;
  • preliminary and final ratings of candidates;
  • collegiate decision-making by the Commission (panel, plenary meetings);
  • existence of the Public Council of Integrity and its powers;
  • participation of third parties in procedures, including NABU;
  • full publicity and transparency of procedures.

“Ukraine is in a much better position compared to that regarding the selection of judges in Lithuania and Austria. In Austria, journalists could not even hold discussions on the selection of judges since the selection is conducted behind closed doors. Of course, everybody wants the selection procedure to be perfect, and if such a model existed, we would use it, but the truth is that there is an element of discretion in any country and there are no standards for discretion. Procedures for selecting judges in Ukraine are well accomplished and successful”, said Mr. Georg Stava, director of the department of the Ministry of Justice of Austria, expert of the EU Project “Pravo-Justice”.

The report “Selection and Evaluation of Judges in Ukraine” was prepared by international experts within the framework of a special expert mission of the EU Project “Pravo-Justice” aimed at reviewing and advising on the judiciary in Ukraine in the context of legislation and practice in the selection and evaluation of judges.

It should be recalled that in 2016, Ukraine began a process of systematic re-loading of the judiciary by introducing compulsory qualification evaluation of all acting judges in order to confirm their ability to administer justice.  The re-loading of the judiciary also involves the selection of new judges and the establishment of new courts.  In respect of more than 6,000 judges and candidates for judicial positions procedures, developed by the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJU), will be conducted. For the first time in 2017, the Supreme Court was established according to the new procedures.

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