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Launching an effective anti-corruption court: Lessons from Ukraine

Ukraine’s High Anti-Corruption Court was created in response to immense public demand to hold government officials and judges accountable for corruption. Making the court operational, however, required more than adopting legislation. It meant selecting and preparing judges, recruiting qualified court personnel, and setting up administrative and organisational structures, including courthouse facilities, security, IT infrastructure, and communications systems. Ukraine’s experience suggests lessons for other countries seeking to launch anti-corruption courts.

Also available in Ukrainian
15 June 2021
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Main points

  • The High Anti-Corruption Court (HACC) was established through a concerted effort by Ukrainian civil society, with international support, in response to public demand for accountability. The push for the new court reflected the inability of ordinary courts to effectively adjudicate high-profile corruption cases.
  • Adoption of the legal framework was a milestone, but making the HACC operational required measures to ensure that judges would have the necessary resources and basic infrastructure to consider cases.
  • The innovative approach to selecting HACC judges involved international experts and reflected the importance of appointing judges with impeccable integrity. It was combined with a needs-based orientation program, focused on the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to consider corruption cases, to prepare judges to take the bench.
  • Creating the administrative and organisational systems for the HACC, including courthouse facilities, security, IT infrastructure, and communications, required leadership from newly appointed judges and court personnel, with targeted international assistance.
  • The recruitment and hiring of HACC staff required vetting the integrity of candidates, as well as dedicated trainings on the special features of working at a specialised anti-corruption court as part of the onboarding process.
  • Performance evaluation of the HACC focuses on the expectation that judges will adjudicate cases effectively, fairly, and in a timely manner. Their ability to do so depends in part on the quality of cases prepared by investigators and prosecutors.
  • During its first 16 months of operations, the HACC has made significant progress, as reflected in civil society monitoring. However, various challenges persist.

Cite this publication


Vaughn, D.; Nikolaieva, O.; (2021) Launching an effective anti-corruption court: Lessons from Ukraine. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Practice Insight 2021:1)

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About the authors

David Vaughn

David Vaughn is an attorney with more than 20 years of experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating legal and judicial reform activities in more than 15 countries throughout Europe and Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America. He currently leads the USAID New Justice Program in Kyiv, which is implemented by Chemonics International, an international development consulting firm based in Washington, DC. David holds a juris doctor degree from the American University Washington College of Law, as well as a master’s degree in political science and a bachelor’s degree in Russian from the University of Vermont. He recently completed a certificate program in mediating disputes at Harvard Law School.

Olha Nikolaieva

Olha Nikolaieva is a legal and judicial expert with nearly 20 years of professional experience in conducting legal research, monitoring and analysing legislation, and organising events to promote rule of law reform. Currently she is a legal adviser to the USAID New Justice Program in Kyiv. Olga is a member of the Ukrainian National Bar Association since 2011. She holds a master’s degree in law from Zaporizhzhya National University and a bachelor's degree in English from Kyiv National Linguistic University.

Disclaimer


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Keywords


justice sector, anti-corruption courts, judges, vetting, Ukraine, Eastern Europe