Analytical article

Justice Without a Blindfold: The Complex Politicization of a Notorious Ukrainian Court

Year:

2019

Published in:

Ponars Eurasia

Authors:

Ukraine
justice system
World Justice Project
Rule of Law Index
European Business Association
judiciary depoliticization

Although often perceived as a country with a horrendous state of justice, Ukraine in fact, is making some progress in this domain. According to the World Justice Project, the country advanced upward four ranks in 2019 in the Rule of Law Index and is now comparable with Romania and Bulgaria. Ukraine reached its historic maximum in 2019 in the Court Index of the European Business Association. Individual lawyers have also signaled that trials have become more competitive and civil and criminal cases have been inoculated against most interferences. Despite some progress, regrettable systemic flaws make the pace of depoliticization of the Ukrainian judiciary remarkably uneven and notable pockets of political partiality persist. The trajectory of the Kyiv District Administrative Court (Okruzhnyi Administratyvnyi Sud mista Kyieva (KDAC)) is illustrative. KDAC was formed in the mid-2000s with the purpose of safeguarding citizens’ rights in public law disputes, but its judicial jurisdiction expanded and it became a formidable tool in the hands of corrupt officials. In particular, KDAC experienced politicization through a complex, five-component process involving both external stimuli and internal dynamics. Any of these aspects are prone to be reproduced unless the structural prerequisites of politicization are removed.

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