On September 16, 2021, within the online mode, a meeting of the Steering Committee of the Ukrainian-Canadian Support to Judicial Reform Project took place.
As the Project expires in December this year, the meeting is dedicated to summing up the results of six years of cooperation with Ukrainian partners.
The High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine was represented by the Acting Head of the Secretariat of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine Oleksandr Bystrushkin. The event was also attended by representatives of the National Judicial Institute of Canada, the Embassy of Canada to Ukraine, Global Affairs Canada, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada, the Supreme Court, the High Council of Justice, the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, the National School of Judges of Ukraine, the Judicial Protection Service, local and appellate courts, as well as by experts and representatives of the Support to Judicial Reform Project.
Oleksandr Bystrushkin greeted the international partners and the Project team, noting the significant assistance in reforming the national judicial system. He also underlined that there was a lot of difficult work ahead, especially with regard to the Commission’s task of resuming selection procedures for judges, as well as working with candidates in reserve. In particular, he informed about the suspended competitions to the High Court on Intellectual Property and its Chamber of Appeals, drew attention to the incomplete qualification procedure for more than 2,000 judges within competitions for vacancies in appellate and local courts.
“Given the experience of previous cooperation with the Project, it is obvious that the provision of methodological assistance and expert tools to the new Commission will create a solid foundation for further effective work and renewal of the judicial system. Here it is impossible to overestimate the importance of the practice of holding joint working meetings organized by the Project for the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine with the participation of leading international experts. Thus, the meeting with the President of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia, the President of the Court of Appeal of Yukon [Canada], and the Legal and Education Director, International Cooperation Group of National Judicial Institute of Canada Donald Chiasson discussed in detail the selection of judges in both Canada and Ukraine. In addition, training was held on the application of standards of evidence in the selection of judges and the criteria of integrity and professional qualifications for the evaluation of candidates for judicial positions. Accordingly, all the conclusions and best practices of such meetings were implemented in the working processes of the institution, about which we will inform the new composition of the Commission”, said Oleksandr Bystrushkin.
In order to ensure transparency of the procedure and objectivity of assessment during the selection of judges, the Commission actively cooperated with the Project, which resulted in positive feedback from experts, in particular on the procedure for taking the qualification exam and methodology for evaluating judicial candidates. The experts noted a sufficient level of consideration of both national experience and best international practices in the area of selection of judges. Expert opinions and recommendations on the tools for regular evaluation of judges were also provided.
Oleksandr Bystrushkin thanked Canadian colleagues for the opportunity given to the Secretariat of the Commission to become a part of the joint activities. Recently, the management of the Secretariat took part in a professional training program under the Management skills development program organized by the High Council of Justice. “The acquired knowledge of management tools in conjunction with previous training and training courses for the staff of the Secretariat is already used to improve the efficiency of current work and will have a positive effect on the full resumption of work”, emphasized Oleksandr Bystrushkin.
Representatives of the Secretariat of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine thanked their colleagues from the Ukrainian-Canadian Support to Judicial Reform Project and hoped for continued fruitful cooperation in the future.
Ukrainian-Canadian Support to Judicial Reform Project (SJRP) is funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada. Its goal is to strengthen the independence of the judiciary in Ukraine. The Project Performer is Canada’s National Judicial Institute (NJI). The Project Partner is the Office of the Ombudsman for Federal Judicial Affairs of Canada.