One prosecutor who had worked under Yanukovych and was due to be lustrated managed to get reinstated in just three business days. The Prosecutor General, Victor Shokin, had long been criticized by civil society groups, Western donors including the US ambassador and reformists within the Rada. Come what may, it is important to acknowledge that not all judicial reform has failed.
Moreover, in October the Rada adopted a law which sought to reduce the power of the prosecutors and stripped them of their oversight function — a Soviet throwback which rendered them superior to judges.
The law is also supposed to make the recruitment process more rigorous and transparent. Nevertheless, such seemingly positive laws can easily be hijacked by antireform elements who distort them to their own ends. In another piece of analysis Vitaly Kasko, the deputy prosecutor general who recently resigned in protest at government corruption and inaction, estimated that 84 percent of the local prosecutors Shokin appointed were previously district prosecutors under Yanukovych.
In Germany, for example, the European Convention on Human Rights has a lower status than the German Constitution, which goes further than the Convention in protecting certain rights. However, the German Federal Constitutional Court has played a leading role over the past decades in ensuring that the European Convention is duly considered in the interpretation of national laws.
Time will tell whether this new Russian law will become a catalyst or a barrier for those who seek justice through an international court.
What is certain, though, is that unless the Russian judiciary becomes more independent, concerns will not be assuaged. The current procedures and criteria to appoint, dismiss and sanction judges still provide insufficient guarantees for objective and fair proceedings and judges remain exposed to pressure from powerful political and economic interests.
The lack of independence is further compounded by a criminal justice system which favours the prosecutorial position, contradicting the principle of equality of arms. Defence rights are also weakened by harassment and other forms of pressure on lawyers, who all too often face hurdles in assisting their clients.
However, they are not insurmountable. In particular, they should amend laws and practice so as to ensure that judges become more impervious to pressure coming from within the judiciary or from external actors. Improving the procedures and criteria to appoint, sanction and dismiss judges, and reforming the system of appointment of court presidents and their powers will be important steps in this regard.
This would help challenge laws and practices which may lead to human rights violations, for instance in areas engaging freedoms of speech, association and assembly.
From —, the bureaucratic reform agenda the development of professional bureaucracy again became one of the key priorities of the Russian government. One of these has been the deteriorating quality of bureaucratic performance, which progressively undermined public trust in government. In reality, Vladimir Putin and many influential Russian analysts mainly regard Greater Eurasia as a geo-political concept to reduce the power of the US and build a multi-polar world. Nahaylo: Do you feel there will a lot of resistance from the old guard within the judiciary to bring new people, new professionals? The jurisdiction of all courts has been expanded — they now have the authority to review cases on the basis of any legal argument. The system of courts martial was listed in Court-Martial Regulations
In addition to achieving the independence and impartiality of judges, future reform efforts in the judiciary should focus on strengthening the right to a fair trial and on ensuring genuine adversarial proceedings, respect for the presumption of innocence and for procedural rights in civil and criminal litigation. Review : "This work should be essential reading for anyone trying to deal with Russia's legal system. Buy New Learn more about this copy.
Reforming the Russian Legal System is a comprehensive analysis of the forces that are shaping legal reform in the former USSR. Looking beneath the flow of. Cambridge Core - Comparative Law - Reforming the Russian Legal System - by Gordon B. Smith.
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