Ukraine: Anti-Corruption Drive Targets Court System

Published: 25 January 2016

Emblem of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine

Emblem of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine

By Stella Roque

Ukraine’s Constitutional Court approved amendments stripping lawmakers’ power to appoint judges, making judges liable for prosecution and introducing stricter criteria on who can become a judge, reported Reuters.

The move is part of the government’s anti-corruption drive aiming to purge bribery and other forms of corruption from the country’s judicial system.

The Ukrainian government is attempting to secure support from its international allies, the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Both institutions have urged the government to crack down on corruption and bribery.

However, the proposed reforms will require a two-thirds vote in Parliament to become law and it is unclear if the reforms will pass as Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's coalition has just a slim majority, according to Reuters.

"It is a political process ... and a matter of political consensus," Oleksy Filatov, President Petro Poroshenko's representative at the constitutional court, told reporters Friday.

"I hope it does not take much time, because without these changes, fundamental changes in the justice system demanded by society are impossible."

Late last year, Ukrainian lawyer Markiyan Halabala told Ukrainian TV Show Viewpoint that of “300 corrupt judges in Ukraine, only 5 were under investigation.”

Halabala represents the families of 39 activists who were killed during the Euromaidan revolution, many of whom are dissatisfied with the progress of the investigations, according to an interview with Halabala on Ukraine Today.

Ukrainians lack faith in the country’s judicial system, according to a poll by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation. Only 9 percent express trust in the justice system with 81 percent distrusting the courts and believing judges are receptive to bribes and political pressure.