U.S. Embassy notes importance of Ukraine's transparent selection of new judicial body members
Ukraine needs to commit itself to a transparent, impartial, and independent selection process for new judicial body members, based on criteria for integrity and professional competence, including the participation of independent experts, USAID Deputy Mission Director Susan Kutor has said.
"However, there is something important to remember: to capitalize on this opportunity and for these reforms to succeed, they need to be implemented in accordance with Venice Commission recommendations and international standards. This means Ukraine needs to commitment itself to a transparent, impartial, and independent selection process for new judicial body members, based on criteria for integrity and professional competence, including the participation of independent experts. And this is something we are helping with," Kutor said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine.
According to her, the U.S. government, including USAID, will continue to support Ukrainian partners in all three branches of government, as well as in collaboration with civil society, to advance significant judicial reforms and expand access to justice for all Ukrainians.
Kutor stressed that Ukraine is at a critical point in advancing judicial reform, which is in fact the key to unlocking progress on the anti-corruption agenda and to building not only investor and public confidence in the system, but overall economic growth.
"It is striking how the Ukrainian public views the judicial system: according to recent polling by the National Democratic Institute, roughly just one-in-ten Ukrainians trust the judicial system and courts! Part of the problem is that judicial reforms of recent years have been piecemeal and have not fully addressed the increasing challenges undermining the rule of law and fair application of justice. I think what Ukrainians want is judicial reform that is holistic and comprehensive," she said.
Kutor also added that some positive steps have been taken.
"Ukraine's Legal Reform Commission is now finalizing its forthcoming 'Strategy for the Sustainable Development of the Judiciary,' which can serve as an important roadmap for comprehensive judicial reform. Ukrainian authorities are considering important draft laws to reform the High Council of Justice and reestablish the High Qualifications Commission of Judges. These judicial governance bodies are at the center of the judiciary and their reform is a prerequisite for credible reform elsewhere in the justice system. Moreover, authorities are planning important reforms to the Constitutional Court and its decision-making process," she said.
USAID Deputy Mission Director emphasized that with this strategy and other reforms that are coming to central judicial bodies, Ukraine does have an enormous opportunity to advance meaningful judicial reform.