KIEV Jan 22 Ukraine's constitutional court
approved moves on Friday to stamp out political meddling in the
judicial system and halt bribe-taking among judges, part of an
anti-corruption drive to help secure aid and goodwill from vital
The court approved amendments that would strip lawmakers of
the power to appoint judges, remove judges' immunity from
prosecution, and impose more stringent criteria on who can
become a judge.
The European Union and the International Monetary Fund,
which has propped up Ukraine's economy with a $40 billion
bailout programme as it fights pro-Russian separatists in the
east, have repeatedly urged Kiev to tackle endemic corruption
According to a December survey by the Democratic Initiatives
Foundation think-tank, 80 percent of Ukrainians distrust the
courts and believe judges are susceptible to bribes and
While the court's decision was expected, the reforms face a
sterner test in parliament which now has to turn the amendments
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's coalition has a small
majority and lawmakers who sometimes rebel against government
decisions. The proposed reforms need a two-thirds majority to
pass at the final reading.
"It is a political process ... and a matter of political
consensus," Oleksy Filatov, President Petro Poroshenko's
representative at the constitutional court, told reporters.
"I hope it does not take much time (to adopt the reforms),
because without these changes, fundamental changes in the
justice system demanded by society are impossible."
(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets; Writing by Matthias
Williams; Editing by Richard Balmforth)