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Joint Statement of Chairmen of Supreme Court, High Council of Justice, High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, Council of Judges of Ukraine, State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, Rector of National School of Judges of Ukraine

Joint Statement of Chairmen of Supreme Court, High Council of Justice, High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, Council of Judges of Ukraine, State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, Rector of National School of Judges of Ukraine

Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine of June, 2, 2016 (concerning justice) and the new version of the Law of Ukraine «On the Judiciary and Status of Judges» provided a number of positive changes, in particular:

- strengthening the independence of the judiciary;

-elimination of political influence on qualification and disciplinary procedures concerning judges;

- strengthening the role of judicial governance and self-government – the High Council of Justice, the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, the Council of Judges of Ukraine;

- increasing the capability for lawyers outside the judicial system to participate in competitive procedures to the Supreme Court, the high specialized and appellate courts;

- establishment at the legislative level of financial guarantees for judges.

A constitutional requirement was to evaluate judges according to the criteria of competence, integrity and professional ethics. In connection with this, 2 701 judges passed qualification evaluation and 2 586 judges still are subject to it.

At the same time, during this period, more than two thousand judges were dismissed, what significantly affected the staffing of courts and the ability to ensure impartial and fair proceedings within a reasonable time. Today 14 courts do not administer justice because of the absence of judges or their powers, in 154 courts the number of judges administering justice is less than 60 percent of the necessary number of personnel. As a result, the right of citizens to the access to justice is violated. The significant difference in the remuneration of judges who have not yet passed the qualification evaluation, in particular for reasons independent of them, is still remaining as an outstanding issue.

Such state of affairs is caused by the length of the process of qualification evaluation and the simultaneous conduct of two competitions to the Supreme Court, the High Anti-Corruption Court, the High Court on Intellectual Property and the current selection of candidates for the judicial positions for the subsequent training at the National School of Judges of Ukraine.

The resolution of staffing problems in judiciary is greatly complicated by the long-lasting attempts to block the work of the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, which are made by litigation and other means.

Taking into account the aforesaid, Chairmen of the Supreme Court, the High Council of Justice, the High Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine, the Council of Judges of Ukraine, the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, Rector of the National School of Judges of Ukraine, according to the results of the meeting of the Communication Committee of Justice System, consider that the primary task of all judicial bodies is to achieve significant and immediate changes in solving the complex of staffing problems in the justice system.

For this purpose it is recommended:

- to the HQCJU within short term (1-2 months) to announce and hold competitions to local (circuit) courts for those judicial candidates who have undergone special training in National School of Judges of Ukraine, as well as in courts where the staff shortage is 50 percent or more;

- to the HCJ, the HQCJU, the SJA of Ukraine during the third and fourth quarters of 2019 to complete the transfer of judges to the courts of appeals, as well as to newly created local (circuit) courts;

- to the HQCJU to consider the possibility of accelerating the qualification evaluation. If necessary, amend the Regulation on the procedure and methodology of qualification evaluation, indicators of compliance with the criteria of qualification evaluation and the means of their establishment. To conduct on a priority basis the qualification evaluation of judges whose five-year term of office has expired;

- to the SJA of Ukraine according to the changes in procedural legislation and in the order prescribed by Article 19 of the Law of Ukraine «On the Judiciary and Status of Judges» to determine the optimal number of judges in the appellate and local (circuit) courts. Accelerate the results of the research on measuring the load of judges and their approval by the Council of Judges of Ukraine;

- to the HQCJU to be guided by the temporary number of judges agreed by the HCJ in carrying out measures for transfer of judges to newly created circuit (local) courts.

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