Delegation of the Supreme Court of Ukraine visiting Karlsruhe and Leipzig

From 26 to 29 October a delegation of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, headed by its President Yaroslav Romaniuk, came to Karlsruhe and Leipzig on a working visit. The President of the Federal Court of Justice, Bettina Limperg, received the Ukrainian judges of all four senates on the second day of the visit to hold expert talks focussing on the consistency of case law.

In Karlsruhe, the delegation was also welcomed by the new Public Prosecutor General, Dr. Peter Frank, who presented his agency and discussed general issues of public prosecution with his guests taking account of the current reform of the Ukrainian public prosecutor's office. Another item on the agenda was the visit to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. Here, the consistency of case law and the cooperation of the Federal Constitutional Court and other Supreme Courts was again a crucial topic. Given the fact that Ukraine has had an administrative jurisdiction for ten years, the German hosts emphasized its importance and particular role in the German legal system. The meetings in Karlsruhe and Leipzig also offered the opportunity to exchange opinions with the Ukrainian colleagues about the current judicial reform. A new court constitution law was adopted in Ukraine in February this year, and also the Constitutional Committee of the President is dealing with the reform of the judiciary in one of its working groups within the current constitutional reform.

Christian Lange and Renate Künast attend expert discussions in Ukraine

On 17 and 18 September, a visit was made to Ukraine by Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Justice and Consumer Protection, Christian Lange (MP), Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection in the German Bundestag, Renate Künast (MP), and acting Director of the IRZ, Dr Stefan Hülshörster.

The programme for the visit included a meeting with Oxana Syroid, Vice-President of the Ukrainian Parliament (Werhowna Rada), and other Members of Parliament in Kiev. Talks were also held with the President of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and of the Supreme Court of Ukraine and with representatives of some NGOs and international organisations.

The delegation learned about constitutional reform, in particular within the context of efforts towards decentralisation, about the difficulties involved in the fight against corruption, about legal reform and about the verification of all those working in public services, which is connected with all of the above points and is known in Ukraine as "lustration". Parliamentary State Secretary Mr Lange also highlighted during the talks the many years of intense efforts by the German government to accompany and support the legal reform process in Ukraine by the IRZ.

As part of the visit programme, Renate Künast opened the sixth German language "Introduction to German Law" course at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, which was initiated by the IRZ at the German Law centre it founded at the university. Talks were also held here with the Mayor of the City of Lviv, Andrij Sadovyi, founder of the "Samopomich" party.

The IRZ has been offering advice in Ukraine for several years now in all of these areas and these discussions also resulted in numerous connections being made to support the continuation and intensification of this cooperation.

Expert talks by Judges from the Ukrainian Constitutional Court at the IRZ

Between 3 and 7 May 2015 we welcomed three acting Constitutional Court Judges from Ukraine, Professor Viktor Shyshkin, Professor Petro Stetsiuk and Professor Ihor Slidenko, at the IRZ's premises for three days of intensive expert talks. The focus was on the doctrine of constitutional law and reviews of members of the civil service and the judiciary.

The Ukrainian guests discussed constitutional control during a state's democratic transformation, control density of procedures and the role of a Constitutional Court as an essential factor in the political field with their German counterparts, Dr Dieter Hömig, retired judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, and Dr Matthias Hartwig of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. The talks focused on safeguarding judicial independence and steadfastness as well as on the question of how judicial self-confidence can be reinforced.

Another issue was the question of how to deal with the increasing influence of international law, and the impact of ECHR case law on the rulings of the Ukrainian Constitutional Court. This was of particular relevance, since it can be assumed that many of the imminent judicial reviews of so-called "lustration procedures" will have to be heard before the Ukrainian Constitutional Court and the ECHR. This is the reason why another focus of the talks was the question whether the reviews of an estimated 500,000 members of the civil service and the judiciary, many of whom have already been dismissed from public service, are lawful and proportionate. These reviews are currently being carried out in Ukraine on the basis of an "act on the consolidation of state power".

The guests from Ukraine held extensive and in-depth discussions with Under-Secretary Thomas Kunz from the Thuringia Ministry for Migration, Justice and Consumer Protection, who was himself in charge of matters relating to reviews of members of the judiciary in the former GDR, and Professor Thomas, retired Under-Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, who was involved in negotiating the Unification Treaty, about the German experience after reunification with regard to reviews of judges and public prosecutors. The above-mentioned "act on the consolidation of state power" has already entered into effect, but it is currently being reviewed, following criticism from the European side. The IRZ also gave its opinion on this issue, as well as the Venice Commission. As a result, the proceedings regarding this act which were pending before the Ukrainian Constitutional Court have apparently now been suspended. To that extent the IRZ will not let up in its efforts to ensure that these reviews, which are definitely necessary in the Ukraine, are conducted according to rule-of-law standards.