Fate of the Supreme Court still up in the air


Andrei Umanets writes in Ekonomicheskiye Izvestia about the still unclear fate of the Supreme Court.  As already reported, one of the main changes resulting from laws passed in 2010, mainly the Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges was a serious reduction in the role and power of the Supreme Court.  Concern over this, and the likely motives, was expressed by the Venice Commission and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE].  There was a serious attempt made as well to remove the Head of the Supreme Court, Vasyl Onopenko with the same motives being suggested. 

Umanets writes that the story with the removal of powers and the need to return them clearly demonstrates that the present regime will only take a serious force into account. If the West is such a force, Ukrainian society, whose representatives can seldom boast of their civic position, need hardly be considered.

On Wednesday the ten-day period for preparing draft Law No. 7447 for its second reading ended, but the draft law has not only not been considered at the regular meeting of the parliamentary Committee on Justice Issues, but has been removed from the parliamentary agenda.  This is the second time that the Party of the Regions have clearly said that they plan to pass this law in the nearest future, and then backed down.

On 19 May the draft law was forced through in the version wanted by those in power and passed by the above-mentioned parliamentary committee but was then on the next day, within a matter of minutes, sent back for a repeat second reading.

There was a similar scenario on 14 March when the Party of the Regions, reacting to the refusal of the CCU judges to give a vote of no confidence against the Head of the Court, clearly spoke for the adoption as soon as possible of draft Law No. 7447. President Yanukovych also insisted on the same. However the very next day, all talk about the document virtually ended, with the new wave only beginning in the second half of May.

Draft Law No. 7447 is of major importance for the entire judicial system since it determines the future of the highest judicial body, the Supreme Court. "The draft law is written in the manner typical of influential Regional Party lawyers: the main thing is to stipulate the objective, and any funding will come. As a result, the legislative initiative envisages not only returning the CCU part of the powers taken away last summer, but carrying out some kind of casting among all 49 CCU judges. The twenty best will remain in the court, while the others will either be sent to lower level courts, or dismissed."

At least those were the basic elements of the document after being adopted at its first reading. What the final version of the key provisions of the draft law will be remains a mystery."

The newspaper has, it says, on many occasions indicated that draft Law No. 7447 is aimed at pushing Vasyl Onopenko’s team out of all positions of power and being able to carry out their policy in the CCU.  "Within the framework of the judicial reform of the summer of 2010, they did not succeed in fulfilling this plan and draft Law No. 7447, registered on 9 December last year, was the second attempt to achieve their ends".

The main question, the author writes, is what is making the Party of the Regions keep backtracking. Who is in a position to force them to make concessions and cede any of the power, when nobody doubts that they presently hold all the reigns?

The author assumes that the pressure is coming from the West with European and US structures having already seriously criticized the judicial reforms carried out in 2010.

One issue only remains unresolved: do Ukrainian citizens have similar mechanisms of influence on their own government and its behaviour? The answer to that question will be directly proportionate to how much the interests of the Ukrainian public are taken into account when taking the political, economic and other decisions on the scale of the whole country.

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