Battle looming over new law on judiciary and judge status

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July 4, 2010, 8:48 p.m. | Politics — by Staff reports

Ukrainian authorities are proposing new legislation they say will make the country's court system less corrupt, but critics say the changes will make the situation even worse.

The parliament is scheduled to convene from July 6-9 before summer recess. Among the controversial laws scheduled for adoption are amendements to the law on the judiciary and judge status.

Thomas Markert, Vice President of the Venice Commission, also known as the European Commission for Democracy through Law, told the German information agency Deutsche Welle on July 4 that while provisions in the draft law reflected many recommendations by his commission, the measure remains "too complicated." Markert added that Ukraine's parliament under the new law would have too much sway over the courts.

Few Ukrainian lawmakers have even seen the proposed changes, which may passed into law by parliament's majority coalition this week.

Ukraine's court system is widely regarded as corrupt.

Numerous Venice Commission opinions over the years have urged Ukraine to curtail the authority of the Prosecutor General's Office, which under the constitutional amendments adopted in 2004 became Ukraine's most important law-enforcement agency.

A meeting of Rada leaders on July 5 will decide whether to floor the law on the judiciary and judge status for adoption before summer recess.

Deputy head of the Presidential Administration in charge of judicial reform, Andriy Portnov, on July 2 urged speedy adoption of the law.

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Anonymous July 5, 2010, 8:28 a.m.    

Ukraine first and foremost must become a full parliamentary democracy in line with other European States. The role of the presidency needs to be reviewed and presidential authority over government restricted to an oversight roll with limited right of legislative veto, subject to review by the Constitutional Court. The office of the President in fulfillment of an oversight role should have rights over the judiciary and the office of the ombudsman ion terms of their administration. The right of Government should lie with the legislative body .. The Rada Ukrainian Parliamentary body.

PACE should develop a series of 'Model constitutions and laws that can be considered as a template for all CoE member states to consider as the basis of their laws and constitutional order.

If the legislature meets the principles outlined by the Venice Commission then these should be supported. If they do not meet these principles then it is incumbent of the Commission to highlight their concerns and seek further consideration.

The fact remains that you will never get 100% understanding of the implications of any legislation. Legislators of all nations rely on professional and executive advice. If, as stated, the governments proposal meets the requirements outlined by the Venice commission then the commission should embrace them.

The Venice Commission's record on consistency and support for democracy though law was brought into question when the commission failed to hold to account Ukraine's former President, Viktor Yushchenko back in 2007.

Yushchenko breached Ukraine's constitution and illegally and unconstitutionally interfered in the independence and operation of Ukraine's Constitutional court, his actions caused seven months of political and civil unrest and a serious loss of confidence in the democratic process.

The Venice Commission tuned a selective blind eye to events in Ukraine in 2007 and in doing so compromised and undermined its own standing as a result.

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Anonymous July 5, 2010, 2:29 p.m.    

Council of Europe should do what? Ukraine becomes President of the Council of Europe next year.

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