UKRAINE – Urgent need to set up the Ethics Council – statement by President Buquicchio

Venice Commission Strasbourg 29 September 2021
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UKRAINE – Urgent need to set up the Ethics Council – statement by President Buquicchio

Judicial reform was at the centre of my recent fruitful exchange with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. That reform is crucial for the future of the country, it raises very high expectations in Ukrainian society.

I welcome the adoption of the Law "On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges and some laws of Ukraine regarding the resumption of the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine" (No. 1629-IX). This is a centre piece of this reform and will allow re-establishing the High Qualification Commission of Judges, which should start filling the numerous judicial vacancies as soon as possible.

Another essential part of that reform is the establishment of the Ethics Council. Its activities are provided for by the Law of Ukraine "On amendments to certain legislative acts of Ukraine concerning the procedure for selection (appointment) to the positions of members of the High Council of Justice and the activities of disciplinary inspectors of the High Council of Justice" (No. 1635-IX).

Ukraine’s international partners have already nominated their candidates for the Ethics Council. It is now urgent that the Council of Judges of Ukraine make, with no further delay, its own appointments, which are essential for the implementation of the reform. Indeed, all the concerned authorities should refrain from taking any measure, action, inaction or procedure resulting in a delay in the setting-up of the Ethics Council, which could cause an irreparable damage to the realisation of an independent and efficient judiciary in Ukraine. It is the responsibility of all to implement the judicial reform. Without the Ethics Council, there cannot be an independent and trusted High Judicial Council and, in turn, there cannot be a trusted High Qualification Commission of Judges.

I am confident that the Ukrainian judges understand that this reform is necessary not only for the reputation and authority of the Ukrainian judiciary but for Ukraine as a whole and for all Ukrainian citizens. I call on them to take responsibility and support the reform. I also call on the competent authorities to take all the necessary steps to allow the Ethics Council to be set up and to carry out its tasks efficiently and swiftly.

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