Structural deficiencies undermine independence of the judiciary in the Russian Federation

The Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (CIJL)

A new ICJ report concludes that a comprehensive reform of the system judicial appointments and promotions, as well as of other aspects of the judicial system, is essential to ensure that the judiciary in Russia is independent and able to be an effective guardian of the Rule of Law.

Following a mission to the Russian Federation, the report examines issues of judicial selection, the appointment and promotion of judges, considers the institutional, procedural and practical aspects of judicial appointments and promotions.

The Supreme Court and the High Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation merger and a process of re-appointment of judges to the new Supreme Court, which was highly relevant to the mission’s more general concern with judicial appointments, are addressed in the report.

The report concluded that weaknesses in the judicial appointments process have contributed to shortcomings in the independence of the Russian judiciary, which the ICJ has highlighted in previous reports of 2010, the State of the Judiciary in Russia and of 2012 Securing Justice: the Disciplinary system for judges in the Russian Federation.

A gap between law and practice in the selection process and “extra procedural” influences and “shortcuts” used by those tasked with navigating the complex multistage process of selection and appointment of judges are mentioned among main problems in the procedure.

The report offers a number of specific recommendations regarding different aspects of the selection procedure, institutions that play a major role in the process and the judicial reform which needs to be undertaken.

The report was based on the findings of the Mission in May 2014, which met with a number of stakeholders in Moscow, including judges, independent experts and NGOs.

Two expert round-table discussions were held during the mission.

The round-table discussions were organized in cooperation with the Institute of Law and Public Policy and the Independent Council for Legal Expertise.

The Mission included Justice Azhar Cachalia, Judge of the South African Court of Appeal and Chair of the ICJ Executive Committee, Judge Jolien Schukking, Judge of the Administrative High Court for Trade and Industry of the Netherlands, board member Judges for Judges, Vidar Stromme, Chair of the ICJ-Norway, Róisín Pillay, Director of the ICJ Europe Programme, Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe Programme and Mari Gjefsen, member of the ICJ-Norway. The mission benefited from the advice of Justice Tamara Morshakova, ICJ Commissioner and former justice of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.


Source: 28.11.2014. Republished with permission.