Appeal to the Venice Commission over the Law “On the Judicial System and Status of Judges”.
Given the inexplicable haste with which the Verkhovna Rada passed a law of crucial importance for Ukraine’s development as a democratic, law-based country, we have sent a letter to the Venice Commission. We understand that the Venice Commission deals with governments, not members of the public. Yet if the government does not communicate with members of the public over a law which could seriously jeopardize the development of an independent and impartial judicial system in Ukraine, they leave us no choice
Dear Members of the Venice Commission,
Despite no official Opinion from the Venice Commission and serious concerns raised by a number of Ukrainian specialists, Ukraine’s parliament on 7 July passed the Law “On the Judicial System and Status of Judges”. It has not yet been signed into law by President Yanukovych and a number of human rights and analytical organizations, as well as people concerned for Ukraine’s development as a law-based democracy are presently calling on the President to veto this law (the appeal itself can be read, for example, here: www.helsinki.org.ua )
As explained here, we are told that the Government received informal comments from individual members of the Venice Commission, and that there will be no formal opinion until October. Given the government’s promise to send the draft law to the Venice Commission and to take its comments into account , the lack of openness and transparency is highly disturbing.
Under these exceptional circumstances, we would be very grateful if the Venice Commission could agree to an unofficial version of the preliminary comments made to the Ukrainian government being available for view by the Ukrainian public. In all translation and circulation of the said comments, we would, of course, stress that the comments would only become official after formal procedure in October.
We understand that the Venice Commission deals with governments, not members of the public. Yet if the government does not communicate with members of the public over a law which could seriously jeopardize the development of an independent and impartial judicial system in Ukraine, they leave us no choice but to approach you directly.
There is an urgent need for serious judicial reform in Ukraine and given the concern that this law could exacerbate the problem of lack of independence, full transparency and openness would seem imperative.
Thank you for your attention and we look forward to hearing from you.
on behalf of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, including the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, and the Centre for Political and Legal Reform and others
I enclose the appeal to veto the law (www.helsinki.org.ua ) and the article mentioned above “Political Justice System” (khpg.org/index.php?id=1279320631) (the latter refers to a more comprehensive analysis in English here: khpg.org/index.php?id=1279160834) These have been sent around a number of mailings and the Petro Grigorenko Foundation, with people responding from Canada, USA, other European countries and, of course, Ukraine.
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