Ukrainian parliament approves key judicial reform bill

International

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a much-anticipated judicial reform, a move long sought by the West.

The Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, voted to endorse a bill that sets up an independent panel to appoint judges. It includes a provision that gives international experts a decisive voice in selecting the nominees.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the bill’s approval and promised to quickly sign it into law. He emphasized that the High Qualification Commission to be created to appoint judges would be formed in a way that would exclude any candidates tainted by corruption.

“The Verkhovna Rada has empowered a key instrument to ensure justice in the judicial system,” Zelenskyy said in a statement on Facebook.

The U.S. Embassy in Ukraine welcomed the new legislation as “an important step forward toward comprehensive judicial reform.”

It said on Twitter that the U.S. stands ready to help Ukraine “realize this historic opportunity to renew Ukraine’s judicial system on behalf of the Ukrainian people.”

The U.S. and the EU long have pushed Ukraine to conduct a comprehensive judicial reform to uproot rampant corruption.

Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 on pledges to combat the country’s endemic graft and end a war with Russia-backed separatists in the country’s east that erupted after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

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