On Monday 15 April, the ICJ will hold a roundtable seminar with judges of the Russian Federation’s highest courts, on disciplinary action against judges in the Russian Federation.
The seminar follows an ICJ report of 2012, Securing Justice: The disciplinary system for judges in the Russian Federation, which analyzed the structures and procedures for disciplinary action against judges, the grounds for disciplinary action and the penalties imposed by law and in practice.
The report raised concern at the unusually high rate of dismissals of judges in the Russian Federation.
It found that vagueness of the grounds for disciplinary action, lack of consistency in application, and the potential for manipulation of the process by court presidents and others, allows for potentially abusive, application of disciplinary sanctions.
This situation has significant consequences for judicial independence.
The ICJ welcomes the recent submission by the Government of a draft law on the judicial disciplinary system to the State Duma, which introduces some important reforms, in particular by establishing for the first time a limitation period for disciplinary action against judges, a problem identified in the Report.
The ICJ considers however that further, more comprehensive reform of the disciplinary system is needed to ensure that it cannot be used as a tool to quell judicial independence.
The ICJ reiterates its call for the Russian authorities to institute judicial reforms, including of the judicial disciplinary system, to protect the essential role of the judiciary as a guardian of the rule of law and the right to a fair hearing.
Such reforms should be developed through a consultative process that includes civil society, academic and legal experts, and the judiciary.
The ICJ seminar will be held at the High Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation.
Judges of the Supreme Court and High Arbitration Court will participate in the seminar, which will hear presentations on judicial disciplinary systems in a number of other jurisdictions, from Judge Azhar Cachalia, Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa and member of the ICJ Executive Committee, Judge Radmila Dicic, Judge of the Supreme Court of Serbia and ICJ Commissioner, and Judge Nicolas Bratza, former President of the European Court of Human Rights.
Tamara Morshakova, former judge of the Russian Federation Constitutional Court and ICJ Commissioner, will also participate.
The seminar will consider the Russian judicial disciplinary system in light of comparative experiences in other jurisdictions, and will discuss the ICJ’s findings and proposals for reform.
- Róisín Pillay, Director, ICJ Europe Programme, t +41 22 979 38 30; e-mail: roisin.pillay(a)icj.org
- Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, ICJ Europe Programme, t +41 22 979 38 32: e-mail: temur.shakirov(a)icj.org