Monday, April 14, 2008

Fighting corruption with corruption

Does the ends justify the means?

Viktor Yushchenko`s interference in the operation and independence of Ukraine`s constitutional court in order to prevent the court from ruling on the legality of his decrees must be condemned.

Having lost a ruling of Ukraine's supreme Court Yushchenko once again has acted illegally and unconstitutional in his ongoing pursuit to pervert the course of justice and prevent the Constitutional Court from ruling against his decrees.

On March 25th Ukraine's Supreme administrative court ruled against the president declaring Yushchenko's dismissal of Ukraine's Constitutional Court Judge illegal.

You cannot fight corruption with corruption.

On April 2nd Yushchenko in fulfillment of the Courts ruling reinstated Susana Stanik to the Constitutional Court. One day later, on the eve of the World Democracy Forum held in Kyiv, Yushchenko issued a new decree cancelling the decree made by his predecessor appointing Ms Stanik as a member of the Constitutional Court. In doing so the Ukraine's president has once again breached his oath and the provisions of chapter XII of Ukraine's constitution, seriously undermining confidence in the Head of State, Ukraine's rule of law and democracy.

On what basis Yushchenko can justify and nullify the decision and decree made by his predecessor? It goes against all established principles of law and order.

The appointment of a Constitutional Court judge is not made by the President acting alone with absolute discretion.

Yushchenko must uphold and respect Ukraine`s Constitution and the process of justice in Ukraine. For a head of state to do otherwise seriously undermines confidence in the rule of law and Ukraine as being a democratic state.

The allegations against Ms Stanik are serious but they remain allegations until proven otherwise. There is a proper process and procedure in which these allegations can and should be considered. These allegations must be referred to the High Council of Justice for review.

On April 19 2007 the Parliamentary Assembly rightly criticised Ukraine and its President for interfering in the operation of the courts.

The Assembly deplores the fact that the judicial system of Ukraine has been systematically misused by other branches of power and that top officials do not execute the courts’ decisions, which is a sign of erosion of this crucial democratic institution. An independent and impartial judiciary is a precondition for the existence of a democratic society governed by the rule of law. Hence the urgent necessity to carry out comprehensive judicial reform, including through amendments to the constitution.

The Assembly reiterates that the authority of the sole body responsible for constitutional justice – the Constitutional Court of Ukraine – should be guaranteed and respected. Any form of pressure on the judges is intolerable and should be investigated and criminally prosecuted

The west can no longer remain silent and turn a blind eye on the unconstitutional illegal actions of Ukraine`s head of state.

PACE must now defend its position and condemn the latest actions of Ukraine`s president.

Failure to do so would only undermine the European Parliamentary Assembly's credibility and independence. If the "west" remains silent and continues to turn a blind eye it will, once again, set a dangerous precedent that a head of state can ignore the rule of law and act corruptly with immunity.

Legal nonsense
by Editorial , Kyiv Post
Apr 10 2008, 03:40

The legal stretchmarks left over from last year’s governmental crisis convinced many that President Viktor Yushchenko is more interested in keeping power than adhering to Ukrainian law. Though his decision to dismiss parliament was questionable, his tactics in preventing a Constitutional Court ruling on the matter were outrageous, plucking dissenting judges from the bench.

The saga lingers to this day, and Yushchenko’s conduct is once again questionable. The Supreme Court of Ukraine re-appointed Suzanna Stanik to the Constitutional Court in a March 25 decision, the same judge at the center of last year’s scandal. Yushchenko’s reaction was standard political maneuvering from Presidential Secretariat Chair Viktor Baloha.

The president accepted the Court’s decision by re-appointing Stanik on April 2, before dismissing her the next day, canceling the decree by former President Leonid Kuchma appointing her in the first place. The Secretariat also alleged Stanik never took her oath of office.

The presidential office should be concerned about corrupt judges, but it shouldn’t stretch Ukraine’s laws for a quick political fix. Attempting to annul a previous president’s decree from the moment it was issued, with a single signature, is legal nonsense. If Ukraine's leaders can't exercise self-discipline and compromise in resolving political disputes, then a strong checks and balances system must be forged. Making constitutional and judicial reform a top priority will help further that cause.