Is integrity a category that can be measured on a polygraph?


In early July, MPs registered draft law No. 9454, which amends the Law of Ukraine “On the Judiciary and the Status of Judges”. It provides for the use of a polygraph for judges and candidates for the position of a judge. The MPs believe that such amendments will help strengthen public confidence in the judiciary. 

The topic has stirred up the judiciary and the public. This was confirmed by a discussion on “DNA test, polygraph or psychoanalysis: how to determine the integrity of a judge?” organized by the “Dobrosud” Law Association on July 29, 2023. The discussion revealed that not all experts see the introduction of a polygraph to test judges as a solution to the problem of corruption in the judiciary. 

“Is integrity a category that can be measured by a polygraph?” this question became almost the main one during the meeting. It is worth noting that the device for psychophysiological detection of untruthfulness has a rather limited range of applications and cannot provide an answer as to whether a judge will take bribes in the future. Even in international practice, there is no system of polygraph testing of judges.

“Integrity is a moral and ethical category. It is not for nothing that it has no limits. I liked the statement about integrity made by Robert Broekhuijsen, a member of the Selection Commission to the HQCJ, international expert: “The integrity of a judge is primarily independence. An independent judge is a priori a fair judge.” Can a polygraph determine a judge’s independence? A judge is independent when he or she can resist external influence and is not dependent on the opinions of others, including senior officials. Ukraine currently ranks 116th out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index, according to Transparency International Ukraine. In 2022, Ukraine received 33 points out of 100 in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Our country’s score increased by one point. Therefore, in my personal opinion, polygraph examination cannot determine integrity,” said the Chairman of the High Qualification Commission of Judges Roman Ihnatov during the discussion.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of the judiciary and executive branches of government, lawyers, civil society activists, and polygraph experts.