Threats of creating a database of judge assistants assessed by the BCU - open appeal
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The emergence of a database of personal data of judicial assistants, the justification of the purposes of its creation and the announced name of the project may indicate intentions to undermine the authority of the judiciary, attempts to create artificial obstacles to the participation of assistants in the selection procedures for judges, as well as attempts to obtain additional tools of pressure on judges themselves.
This was the assessment of the project of the Ukrainian Association «Automaidan» (originally called «Judicial henchmen») by the Bar Council of Ukraine during an extraordinary meeting on November 9.
Below is the full text of the open appeal approved by the decision of the BCU No. 114:
To the President of Ukraine
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
Other competent authorities
and interested parties
OF THE BAR COUNCIL OF UKRAINE
On November 7 this year, the Ukrainian Association «Automaidan» announced the creation of the first open database of personal data of judicial assistants from almost all regions of Ukraine. The project, called «Judicial henchmen», was funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.
The importance of creating the database and public access to it was motivated, in particular, by the corruption of the Ukrainian judicial system, because «quite often, judicial assistants in Ukraine, and then judges, become judges not through knowledge and hard work, but through connections and corrupt influence». Therefore, «the information posted on this resource will be useful both to the public and journalists monitoring the judicial reform process in Ukraine, as well as to ordinary citizens who care about cleaning up the judicial system and forming an honest judiciary».
Following a negative reaction from the professional community and judicial governance bodies in Ukraine, the project's title, which was derogatory and degrading to patronage service employees, was removed.
The Bar Council of Ukraine believes that the fact of the emergence of this database, the justification of the purposes of its creation and the announced name of the project are manifestations of the biased attitude of the Ukrainian Association «Automaidan» to judges and their assistants, and may also indicate intentions to undermine the authority of the judiciary, create artificial obstacles to the participation of assistants in the selection procedures for judges, as well as attempts to obtain additional tools of pressure on judges themselves.
The position of a judge's assistant requires a professional and responsible attitude to the functions of ensuring the administration of justice.
Defining the role of judge assistants, the Advisory Council of European Judges in its Opinion of 07.11.2019 No. 22 (2019) noted that judge assistants, especially those involved in the judgment-making process, perform important duties within the judicial system. Their behavior can directly affect the trust of the public and parties seeking justice. They belong to a category of professionals who must meet high professional and ethical standards and thereby contribute to strengthening public confidence in the judiciary.
However, due to the lack of adequate financial support for the patronage service, the judiciary has long been facing a staffing crisis, which directly affects the quality of the administration of justice.
Supporting the open appeal of the Council of Judges of Ukraine to place an open database of judicial assistants on the Internet (decision of the CCU of 07.11.2023 No. 50), the Bar Council of Ukraine:
- condemns any manifestations of disrespectful attitude towards the judicial system of Ukraine and its employees;
- considers unacceptable the implementation of projects that undermine confidence in the judiciary;
- Emphasizes that such interference with the judiciary poses a direct threat to the national security of Ukraine;
- calls in this regard on the state authorities and law enforcement agencies to assess the project within their competence and take measures to eliminate real and potential threats associated with the public disclosure of the database of personal data of judicial assistants;
- expresses distrust of the Ukrainian Association «Automaidan» in terms of its further participation in the reform of the judicial system;
- draws the attention of the National Endowment for Democracy to the fact that the funds allocated by it were used for illegal purposes to the detriment of Ukraine's interests.
President of the Bar Council of Ukraine,
of the Ukrainian National Bar Association Lidiya Izovitova
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