For many years questions have been raised with respect to the lack of judicial discipline cases despite obvious signs of violations allegedly committed by judges. Reasons can be sought in the general and unforeseeable nature of grounds for judicial discipline as established in the legislation and selective application of disciplining mechanisms by the High Council of Justice.
The “Third Wave” reform amendments introduced the institute of an Independent Inspector to increase trust in the system of judicial accountability and ensure objective and impartial examination of violations allegedly committed by judges.
The first competition for the selection of an Independent Inspector was announced on May 8, 2017. The competition failed. The public is unaware of the reasons of failure as well as the names of applicants. The competition was re-announced on October 23, 2017.
The public is still unaware of who is participating in the ongoing competition for selecting an Independent Inspector. The candidate interviews were closed and the civil society representatives were not allowed to attend. Full closure of the selection process raises questions with respect to the Council’s dubious interests in the competition outcomes and may undermine public trust in the selected candidate.
The civil society often criticized the existing legislative framework for the absence of adequate independence guarantees for an Inspector. According to the existing regulations, the High Council of Justice appoints and dismisses an Inspector, thus making this institute fully dependent on the Council. The law does not provide a procedure for selecting an Inspector and the competitions rules are defined by the High Council of Justice. The voting rule is also problematic. The votes of the Council’s judge-members rather than the votes of the qualified majority are sufficient for selecting an Inspector.
The flaws of the regulatory framework attach greater importance to transparency of the process for selecting an Inspector who should gain trust in the society. Correspondingly, we are calling on the High Council of Justice to publish the applicants’ names and biographies as well as video recordings of interviews, since the interviewing process has already been completed.