President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych took part in the X extraordinary Congress of Judges of Ukraine, presidential press office reported.
Addressing the delegates, President Yanukovych said that creating independent, accessible and efficient justice system, which meets world standards, is one of the main priorities of Ukraine.
"In a state, which aspires after the rule of law, courts must be respected, authoritative, and truly independent. The judges must prove to the people of Ukraine with their actions that courts are the way to truth and justice," Viktor Yanukovych said.
Today, President Yanukovych said, people would like the court to be a real guarantor of their rights and legitimate interests, their reliable defender, rather than bureaucratic institution.
"Judicial reform is needed. It is clear to everybody," he said, reminding that the Law on Judiciary and Status of Judges, which he had brought in to the Parliament, was adopted by it and became effective on July 30, 2010. "Thus, the first and urgent step towards judicial reform in Ukraine was made," he said.
According to the President, today's congress of judges of all regions, instances and specializations is the best answer to critics of the new law and a good example of its effectiveness. In this context, Viktor Yanukovych noted that the new law has improved procedural legislation, strengthened the role of judicial self-government, improved judges’ independence, etc..
"I strongly object separation of the court and the state. Judicial power is a branch of power in the state; please remember that. The state’s main task is to protect the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens,” he said
President Yanukovych expressed assurance that only effective operation and constructive interaction between the three branches of power – legislative, executive and judicial – is able to provide development of the state.
"The goal of my presidency is to make sure that Ukraine is no longer an outsider among the European countries. Our state has all it takes to become an equal member of the European community in the next five years. Without independent and qualified courts it is impossible. I invite you to become my partners on this way," Viktor Yanukovych said.
Of course, Viktor Yanukovych said, the judicial system cannot escape difficulties that are typical for the whole state. All the areas of economy and social sector suffer from chronic underfunding.
"We are working to overcome this problem," he said, promising that even in the present difficult conditions, essential financial needs of the courts will be fulfilled. One of the ways to achieve that, Viktor Yanukovych said, is to introduce court fees, which would be used to finance the courts. According to the Head of State, the amount of court fee should be differentiated depending on the type and complexity of the case, so as the order of setting and charging the fee should be simple and comprehensive for everyone.
"I am confident that the new status of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine as a part of the judicial system will improve the financial support of judges. The new law also gives reasons to expect that candidates for judges will be better trained," he said, adding that the Higher Qualification Commission of Judges and the National School of Judges have all the capabilities to provide courts with qualified staff.
"The judicial reform is far from being completed. It is time to reform criminal justice. Prosecution must be made with strict observation of human rights and freedoms, in full conformity with the European standards. Organization and authority of law enforcement agencies must be reviewed in accordance with the practice in developed democracies," Viktor Yanukovych said. He also noted that the system of criminal penalties must be dominated by sentences not connected with imprisonment. Both, prosecution and defense will be reformed so that their representatives played leading role in criminal processes on the basis of competitiveness, he said.
"I do not rule out that in order to complete the reform, the Constitution of Ukraine could be amended," the President said.
"You will elect High Council of Justice members today. This institution plays a vital role in the functioning of the judiciary. The authority of the Council to dismiss judges imposes huge responsibility on its members and leadership. The High Council of Justice must not be a punitive authority, or used by anyone as a tool of reprisal against disobedient judges. Even more unacceptable is the use of council member status in one’s own interests," said Viktor Yanukovych.
President Yanukovych called upon those present to elect worthy candidates.
The President also called unacceptable the executive authorities’ practice of adopting illegal decisions, explaining them with lack of funds or some pseudo-state interests, or when obviously legitimate court decisions are appealed against to delay time.
"I emphasize it – state power must be single. There should be no confrontation between the executive and judicial power. We must make order in the country together" Viktor Yanukovych said.
An example of such cooperation President called the work being conducted in the capital to return communal property to the city, including the land. According to President Yanukovych, the number of court decisions that were made by some “enterprising” judges to hand out the land in Kyiv passing over Kyiv City Council is astonishing. "We found all these cases and will investigate them", said President Yanukovych, adding that the most active in this process were the judges of the Commercial Court and Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv.
"I am convinced that the High Council of Justice, which has already received the relevant information, will give adequate and operational evaluation of such practices," he said.
President Yanukovych wished the congress delegates fruitful and productive discussion, close cooperation and significant achievements in the name of law, justice and Ukraine.
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