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Ukraine - annual report 2018

Published: July 29, 2019
Working visit by the Ukrainian Administrative Cassation Court within the Supreme Court to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig: President of the Federal Administrative Court Prof. Klaus Rennert (centre) and President of the Administrative Cassation Court Mykhailo Smokovych (to the left)
Working visit by the Ukrainian Administrative Cassation Court within the Supreme Court to the Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig: President of the Federal Administrative Court Prof. Klaus Rennert (centre) and President of the Administrative Cassation Court Mykhailo Smokovych (to the left)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The situation in the east of Ukraine did not change substantially during the reporting year. But there was some additional tension in the Sea of Azov, which toward the end of the year led to the imposition of aspects of martial law in some regions of Ukraine. The separation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church from the Russian Orthodox Church became a dominant issue over the course of the year, which also influenced the political realm. Against the backdrop of this general situation, a continuation of legal reforms in the country remains a significant challenge.

Many reforms have already been implemented nonetheless. Reconstituted and reformed in December 2017, the Supreme Court can now look back on a year of business. Numerous constitutional complaints have already been submitted to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine after introduction of this instrument (as complaint against a law) as part of the constitutional reform two years ago. After the passage of the new Law on the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in 2017, judges at the Constitutional Court are now able to address these complaints.

Overall Concept

In addition to the measures funded with the support of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), a project financed by the Federal Foreign Office was again launched in August 2018 (scheduled to run until the end of 2019): “Strengthening of constitutional court jurisdiction and the judiciary/administration of justice in Ukraine“. The Constitutional Court, which was assigned new competencies as part of the constitutional reform, will be strengthened by this project, especially in regard to the new legal remedy of constitutional complaint. This extends also to general jurisdiction and its independence, aspects which are facing significant challenges due to the extensive judicial reform. The measures funded by the BMJV and the Federal Foreign Office work together in synergy. A Twinning Project is also in place to support the Supreme Court.

Another important partner in 2018 was again the National School of Judges with its reforms of the training programme for judges. Initiated in 2016, the cooperation between the Kiev Appeal Court and the Higher Regional Court of Oldenburg has since been broadened into a regular technical exchange of opinions. The Ukrainian National Bar Association was also supported by the IRZ in cooperation with the German Federal Bar.

Some progress has been achieved in preparing the Ukrainian Administrative Procedure Act, for which a draft version has been available for years and on which the IRZ has provided ongoing counselling. The act may be passed in the near future. A codified administrative procedure law would be an important instrument in policy to combat corruption, among other things. Moreover, it would serve as a basis for case-law at administrative courts. Administrative court jurisdiction remains one of the priorities of IRZ counselling in Ukraine. In this area, partners include the (new) Administrative Cassation Court within the Supreme Court, as well as the administrative courts of first and second instance in the various regions of Ukraine.

For 2019, there are plans to revise the work programme for the Joint Declaration on Cooperation between the BMJV and the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, which was signed in March 2017. During the reporting year, implementation of the Joint Declaration by the two Ministries of Justice was dominated by cooperation in the area of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (HCCA), for which the IRZ conducted two measures in Germany and two in Ukraine, in some cases together with the Bavarian State Ministry of Justice.

The promotion of young legal professionals continued at the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv with the ninth course of German-language supplementary studies as an introduction to German law.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

Administration of Justice

Public Law

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

Basic and Further Training

Project funded by the European Union

EU Twinning project: Strengthening the institutional capacity of the Supreme Court of Ukraine in the field of human rights protection at the national level

This EU Twinning Project supports the newly established Ukrainian Supreme Court to move closer to modern European standards. This 24-month project has been led by the IRZ with the Latvian Ministry of Justice as junior partner since March 2017. It has a budget of approximately €1.3 million.

The Ukrainian Supreme Court was restructured in 2017 as a court of cassation during a comprehensive judicial reform. In addition, a review procedure was conducted in late 2017, during which all judges were replaced.

The main objective of the project is to familiarise the newly appointed judges with the newly introduced approach of cassation. Moreover, it is also intended to improve the legal framework for the business of the Ukrainian Supreme Court in accordance with EU standards, increase the professionalism of judges and court employees and add to the effectiveness of the Supreme Court’s case-law. Also included is the plan to enable greater public access to information on case-law and to establish more efficient working processes.

After delays in selecting and appointing the new judges, who represent the main target group of the project activities, the initial measures were not put into practice until the second half of 2018. The third component of strengthening the capacity of the Supreme Court and improving public access to the judiciary was brought to a successful conclusion in 2018, despite the initial delays. In this context, training courses and seminars were organised, including study trips to the Higher Regional Court of Cologne with the aim of building knowledge among Ukrainian legal experts within the area of judicial administration. Components 1 and 2 are earmarked for completion by June 2019 and should contribute to improving the legal frameworks, as well as the further training of judges.

Outlook

Constitutional and judicial reform will continue to shape cooperation with Ukraine going forward. The Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court will remain key partners in this context. In connection with counselling on the law of judges, cooperation with the Highest Judicial Qualification Committee, the Supreme Judicial Council, the Qualification and Disciplinary Board of the Public Prosecutor‘s Office and the National School of Judges will continue.

As a key institution for the protection of civil rights, administrative court jurisdiction will remain a priority of the IRZ‘s work in Ukraine. Further training for the Ministry of Justice and representatives of public administration will be addressed in order to implement the Administrative Procedure Act, which may be adopted in the following year.

Cooperation between the BMJV and the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice will continue to be expanded within the framework of the Joint Declaration by the two institutions.

Promotion of young legal professionals will also proceed by means of the German-language supplementary studies on German law organised by the IRZ at the Ivan Franko National University in Lviv.