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Ukrainian judges approve watchdog members despite West’s transparency concerns

World1 hour ago (Mar 09, 2021 12:55PM ET)

KYIV (Reuters) – Ukrainian judges voted on Tuesday to approve four new members of the country’s judicial watchdog, despite Kyiv’s main international backers urging them to postpone the step over concerns over the transparency of the selection process.

The vote risks further delaying the disbursement of new loans from the International Monetary Fund under a $5 billion deal package for Ukraine’s virus-hit economy, where judicial reforms remain a sticking point.

The watchdog, the High Council of Justice, is an independent body that monitors the integrity of judges, nominates judicial appointments and can dismiss judges.

Anti-corruption protesters rallied outside the hotel in Kyiv where the judges’ congress was taking place, saying the selection process should have been more rigorous and done with the help of international experts.

Supreme Court chief Valentyna Danishevska said postponing the vote would have been unconstitutional, saying at the start of the congress that the judges would choose people with an “impeccable reputation”.

“We are urged not to hold a congress, but this is our constitutional duty,” she said in televised comments.

Ukraine’s international backers have long pressed Kyiv to clean up the judiciary, long seen as one of the biggest obstacles to tackling corruption.

“A critical part of comprehensive reform, which includes reform of the High Council of Justice, is ensuring the integrity, ethics and qualifications of judicial appointees,” the Group of Seven nations said in a tweet on March 5.

“To that end, Ambassadors urged the Congress of Judges to postpone appointments to the High Council of Justice and Constitutional Court, pending the establishment of transparent, credible selection processes.”

Ukrainian judges approve watchdog members despite West’s transparency concerns

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