US Ambassador advises Ukraine to heed Venice Commission

The United States is urging Ukraine’s parliament to pay heed to the recommendations of the Venice Commission regarding the Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges. This was the message from US Ambassador to Ukraine, John Teffit during a roundtable on Judicial Reform in Ukraine and World Standards of Judicial Independence. The Parliamentary Committee on Justice Issues is also promising to prepare amendments to the same law in the near future.

John Teffit stated that the US is willing to support Ukraine’s efforts in carrying out transparent judicial reform. “However the Venice Commission has a number of comments about the Law and we therefore feel that it is very important for the Verkhovna Rada to take these comments into consideration and make the appropriate amendments to it.”


Mr Teffit called the law passed in July an important step for Ukraine. He said that in the USA it is customary to consider the rule of law to be the foundation of democracy and reform of the judicial system and raising of trust in it are vital for the normal functioning of society.  Such reform, he said, is no less important for Ukraine.


According to the Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice Issues, Valery Bondyk (Party of the Regions), his committee is planning to prepare amendments without delay to the law passed. He says that even before the Venice Commission’s Opinion was adopted, the committee had taken into account over 100 corrections of the Commission to this law.

As reported, the Venice Commission is very critical of the reduction in the powers of the Supreme Court. It recommends extending these, banning any awards to judges, restricting their immunity and excluding the Minister of Justice from the High Qualifying Commission.


More details can be found in the analysis by Marina Stavniychuk, herself a member of the Venice Commission. The latter’s Opinion was made public in the middle of October. 


Despite a civic campaign, warnings from international and Ukrainian legal experts, including from the Venice Commission the ruling majority hastily passed the Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges and the President ignored calls to veto it.


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