Foreign expert panel wants to veto half of Ukraine’s anti-graft court candidates
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The Public Council of International Experts (PCIE), a foreign expert panel, has initiated joint meetings with the High Qualification Commission of Judges as of Jan. 12 on vetoing 47 out of 113 candidates for the High Anti-Corruption Court.
The joint meetings will be held from Jan. 18 through Jan. 24.
If a majority of both the High Qualification Commission and the PCIE vote for a candidate, she or he will continue their participation in the competition, given that at least three of the six PCIE members approve of the candidate. If not, the candidate will be vetoed.
With this development, Ukraine comes one step closer to creating the High Anti-Corruption Court, the much-anticipated legal body that is intended to complete the chain of anti-graft agencies created in Ukraine after the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, which overthrew a corrupt and pro-Russian government. The deadline for the launch of the court comes in June 2019.
The foreign panel has not initiated vetoes on 19 out of 55 candidates named by anti-corruption watchdogs on Jan. 9 as not meeting professional ethics and integrity standards. However, it has initiated vetoes on 11 candidates who were not included in the watchdogs’ list.
The PCIE has rejected the idea of initiating joint meetings on vetoing or approving all candidates and interviewing all of them, which could have allowed the foreign panel to assume the function of positive selection (selection of the best candidates) and prevent all potential manipulations of the High Qualification Commission.
Remaining tainted candidates
Some candidates who were approved by the PCIE and will not be vetoed have links to politicians and could have violated asset declaration rules.
The father of one of these candidates, legal scholar Kyrylo Legkykh, has a joint business with Valery Holovko, governor of Poltava Oblast and an ex-lawmaker from the Batkyvshchyna party.
Another candidate approved by the foreign panel, Judge Igor Chaikin, failed to declare his lease on a 1,856 square meter land plot in Kirovohrad Oblast and on a 61 square meter apartment in Dnipro Oblast in his 2014 asset declaration.
Chaikin also declared a 213-square-meter house in 2014 but has not declared either the house or income from its sale in subsequent declarations.
Anti-corruption watchdogs also say there are doubts on whether Chaikin’s declared income matches his assets.
Meanwhile, administrative penalties for traffic violations have been repeatedly imposed on Chaikin.
Chaikin’s wife, Olga Chaikina, failed to declare two houses and an apartment with a total area of 207 square meters in 2012 to 2015. She was also approved by the PCIE.
Chaikina had earned Hr 2.8 million by leasing real estate in 2012 before becoming a judge. However, since then she has not declared any income from property leases, and anti-corruption watchdogs concluded she was hiding that income.
She has also repeatedly banned the filming of court hearings.
Chaikin, Chaikina and Legkykh did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, the PCIE initiated a veto on one candidate who has a good reputation among anti-corruption experts – lawyer Markiyan Halabala.
In 2014 to 2016, Halabala was a member of a commission for the lustration of judges accused of unlawfully persecuting EuroMaidan protesters. Halabala, who is also a lawyer for the families of slain EuroMaidan protesters, was a legal expert at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2009 to 2010.
There are also accusations that the selection of anti-corruption judges has been rigged, which is denied by the High Qualification Commission.
The High Qualification Commission has been accused of manipulating the Nov. 12 legal knowledge tests for the High Anti-Corruption Court and the Supreme Court.
Some of the test questions had more than one correct answer, according to ex-Public Integrity Council member Vitaly Tytych, High Qualification Commission member Andriy Kozlov and Judge Mykhailo Slobodin. The commission had the opportunity to promote some candidates by telling them which answers were correct, according to Tytych, who participated in the competition for the Supreme Court but did not pass the tests. The commission refused to give him his test results, which he says proves they were falsified.
Article source: “https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/foreign-expert-panel-wants-to-veto-half-of-ukraines-anti-graft-court-candidates.html”