In August 2018, the High Qualifications Commission of Judges of Ukraine announced a competition for the position of judges of the High Anti-Corruption Court. 12 reputable international experts will monitor its course. Together with the High Qualifications Commission, they will check the integrity and professionalism of the candidates and consider eligibility of each candidate for the competition criteria. Read about this in an interview with Head of the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine Eka Tkeshelashvili.
Today, Ukrainian and international communities are closely monitoring the process of establishing the Higher Anticorruption Court (HACC), in particular, the organization of a competitive selection of HACC judges. We can see the attention devoted to making sure that the contest and selection of judges are honest and transparent and that the new public authority is staffed with highly professional candidates dedicated to justice and with independent stance, impeccable reputation and substantial experience in this field.
I would like to go into details of the support that the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine and other international organizations are going to provide in all phases of the contest and how its openness and transparency are going to be achieved.
First of all, I would like to note one of the key features of this contest, i.e. powers of the Public Council of International Experts (the “Expert Council”) that will help the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges of Ukraine (HQCJ) check the candidates’ conformance with criteria established by law. The Council’s membership shall be approved by the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges, and the candidates for the Council will be nominated by 15 international organizations with which Ukraine works on combating corruption.
Presently, the list of candidates for the Expert Council undergoes approval procedure.
At this stage, coordination of efforts will be handled by the European Union.
By mid-September, a list of at least 12 international experts must be submitted to HQCJ.
I strongly believe that the participation of international experts in this process – surely, in cooperation with Ukrainian public authorities – would not only ensure the necessary transparency and objectivity of the contest but also increase trust in the newly-established court and prevent the appointment as judges of candidates who do not meet the criteria established by law.
It is the first time when international experts are going to play an unprecedented role in the judge selection process.
Their authority is not limited to evaluation of candidates’ integrity and professionalism only. Upon request of at least three members, the Expert Council may check the conformance with criteria of any candidate for an Anticorruption Court judge. For that purpose, a special joint meeting of HQCJ and the Council would be convened, and if the majority of the meeting’s attendees, including at least half of international experts, vote on the candidate’s nonconformance, the said candidate will be eliminated from the contest.
The results of each phase of the contest will also be made available on HQCJ website, so that every Ukrainian would also be able to monitor the judge selection process.
Members of the Expert Council (as well as HQCJ members) will have access to the files of candidates for HQCJ judges and to open government registers and databases. In addition, international experts will gather, check and analyze the candidates’ information themselves, provide that information to HQCJ and, if necessary, participate in special joint meetings with HQCJ and interview candidates in case of doubts as regards their conformance with criteria.
Media have voiced fears that international experts might not be able to check a large array of information regarding candidates for HACC, especially considering the tight timeframe of their work on the Council.
Let me emphasize: we already have an answer to this.
The EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine and other international partners are going to provide technical support to the Expert Council. To make sure that the Public Council of International Experts is fully operable and efficiently performs its functions, a secretariat will be established to provide all possible analytical and expert assistance to the Council’s members.
Presently, we are helping develop an all-encompassing internal regulatory framework for the Council’s operation (the rules of procedure, work procedures, candidate evaluation criteria and other documents), and selecting experts to the secretariat, which would be important for realization of the Expert Council’s mandate.
It is also worth noting that for law professionals, this contest for judge vacancies offers a unique opportunity to take an important step in their career and become a part of the new judicial corps. It also offers unique opportunities for professional growth and further development, for example, by joining international professional networks in the sphere of justice or associations of judges.
I am a lawyer myself; I worked as a judge and headed an appellate court in Georgia. For me, it is obvious that a position of judge is one of the highest points for a law professional in professional self-realization. It is an opportunity to take a prestigious office with a competitive remuneration and, which is no less important, become a part of changes in the country.
Therefore, I urge all law professionals of Ukraine to apply for the position of judge of the Higher Anticorruption Court! Rest assured that the contest will be honest, open and transparent.
Eka Tkeshelashvili, Chair of the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine
The article was originally published on Europeiska Pravda