USAID stands ready to help Ukraine improve its judiciary, rule of law

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Nov. 12, 2010, 12:16 a.m. |
Dear Editor,

I was disappointed to read the Kyiv Post’s Nov. 5 opinion piece “Rule of lawlessness prevails in this nation.” The piece seems to reflect a misunderstanding of the remarks made by U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft and the chief of party of the USAID Ukraine Rule of Law Project, David Vaughn, at the Oct. 26-27 USAID Ukraine Rule of Law conference. A free and open discussion of judicial independence and transparency is critical to promote judicial reform in Ukraine, and USAID provided such a forum at this event. A diverse group of Ukrainian judges, legal experts and NGO leaders participated, and the event was deliberately open to the press.

The conference occurred just 10 days after the Venice Commission – the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters – issued its opinions on the Law on the Judiciary and Status of Judges. It was the first public event at which the strengths and weaknesses of the new judiciary law were discussed, and at the conference key policymakers made public commitments to amend the law in line with the Venice Commission’s critique.

USAID supports open dialogue on what can be done to improve the judiciary in Ukraine. There is no doubt that improvements are needed. However, over the past few years there has been progress in many areas. USAID’s work has promoted automated case management, which is key to reducing corruption and increasing transparency in the judicial system, and we have achieved the adoption of ethics rules for the more than 35,000 court staff in Ukraine.

Thanks to USAID’s work, the new law includes positive features, such as requiring anonymous judicial testing and the rating of candidates online, which improves judicial selection. The law strengthens judicial disciplinary procedures by giving any citizen the right to file a complaint directly with a national disciplinary body using an online form; it also requires the posting of disciplinary decisions on the Web. These enhancements were the direct result of USAID’s work on judicial selection and discipline.

In his remarks at the conference, Ambassador Tefft said he was pleased with passage of the new law on the judiciary – but noted key Venice Commission concerns, including “problems related to the new status of the Supreme Court and in the increased role of the High Council of Justice in the appointment and dismissal of judges.” The Ambassador added that he was pleased that the Ukrainian government supports the Commission’s opinion and is dedicated to improving the law and continuing the judicial reform process.

The conference resulted in more than 30 substantive recommendations to improve the law in line with Venice Commission opinions. The attendees also identified more than a dozen specific recommendations for amending the Constitution to promote “judicial independence and the rights of citizens to get a fair trial,” including adding into Section II of the Constitution a provision on a person’s right to fair trial within a reasonable time (in accordance with Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

USAID will continue to work with policymakers and civil society in their efforts to improve the law in line with Venice Commission opinions. We believe it is critical that the Ukrainian government meets its public commitments to implementing the Venice Commission’s recommendations.

Respectfully Yours,

Janina Jaruzelski
Mission Director
USAID Regional Mission for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova
The Kyiv Post is hosting comments to foster lively debate. Criticism is fine, but stick to the issues. Comments that include profanity or personal attacks will be removed from the site. If you think that a posted comment violates these standards, please flag it and alert us. We will take steps to block violators.
Anonymous Nov. 12, 2010, 7:35 p.m.    

How better the world woul dbe if the AMERICANS were to stay out of the internal workings of other countries and instead focus on their OWN PROBLEMS

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Anonymous Nov. 15, 2010, 9:05 p.m.    

Same for the kremlin!

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Anonymous Nov. 13, 2010, 6:12 p.m.    

And what is America doing wrong here. They're only offering aid to help improve things for our country.The problem is that the Yanukonvict admininstration has no wish whatsoever to improve anything, legal or whatever!

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Anonymous Nov. 21, 2010, 12:25 a.m.    

If you were in a lake drowning.....would you care who it was to throw you a life saver.....or would you say, I don't want you to help me,,,,I will save myself or die trying!!!

Everyone, at some time, needs a helping hand.

The west is offering a life saver......Moscow is throwing rocks!!!

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Anonymous Nov. 16, 2010, 3:14 p.m.    

The can all stand ready to help, but you can not force the horse to the river and drink, unless it walks by itself.

In this case, Ukraine politicians do not want any help, as they of course with so many years of experience with democracy - more than 17 years, know all and best themselves (how to take care of themselves).

Why do bother at all? The answer is as simple as the question.

Because of the Ukrainian people - which are hostages taken by their own elected politicians.

You might say - you get what you deserve - and rightlfully so - you do. In this case - Ukrainian people do not have many choices - it is either bad or worse politicians to choose from - all from the same background - millions of dollars. And next to it - they are not allowed to speak out loud if they do disagree with the Prime minister or their president.

You are not allowed to make comedies putting a houmoristic tone on politicians - Azarov is of the opinion that this is a matter of national security, and needs to be controlled.

As Media is controlled by politicians as they are major owners of the most popular channels in Ukraine - makes political discussions almost impossible.

Even though the president stated in Brussel, that he takes journalistic freedom very serious and would strike down on any attempts limiting this.

Well, well, is political retorics just nice?

Best of luck Ukraine - you might need that more than skills when it comes to choice of political leadership in the future.

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Anonymous Nov. 16, 2010, 3:19 p.m.    

We are Ukrainians, and know best ourselves to take care of ourselves.. Hm,,, what is wrong with this statement?

IMF has to bail out Ukraine because the Ukraine politicians can not add 2 and 2 and get 4 like most people in Ukraine can do, even the simplest farmers can do that - but not the Ukraine politicians. They add 2 and 2 and get only 3, and the 1 missing is just missing.. Strange??

Well, we could try to let Ukraine manage itself and see where it ends in the end. It is not going to be an independent state for long - that is sure.

Hmm, an idea, why not join forces with Belarus, and become - Belaraine?

It seems like the political agende begins to look similar in those two states, so they could have lots in common - as they share the river at least now.

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Anonymous Nov. 21, 2010, 12:36 a.m.    

Your comments are correct and duly noted......but your actions are non-existant.

Yanuk gives lip service to your recommendations, then does exactly the opposite making a mockery of your suggestions.

Yours is a war of words with good intentions.....and Yanukalins is a realistic war of destruction of freedoms, rights and destruction of the Ukrainian Constitution.

More outspoken, hard hitting critisicm, and action by pro freedom NGO's and western leaders.

Otherwise Yanuk will win.....and Ukraine will become a soviet state again.

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Anonymous Dec. 2, 2010, 10:01 p.m.    

How dare YOU presume ANY sane country wants to impose American &quot;justice&quot; on itself where the criminals have MORE rights than the victims!? And the lawyers make millions by exploiting all sides!

No country wants YOUR &quot;justice&quot; system!

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