Online-meeting with the representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and ENEMO. Yevhen Miezientsev about special aspects and differences of the current electoral process
Yevhen Miezientsev, deputy head of the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal held an online-meeting with representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and ENEMO. The perticipants were discussing an electoral process in Ukraine, especially role and powers of the court in the preparation and support of the electoral process; procedural details of electoral cases’ consideration according to the new Electoral Code of Ukraine, analytics of current judicial electoral disputes (number, classification); the procedure for interaction with the parties and subjects of the electoral process.
Special aspects of the current electoral process
Yevhen Miezientsev told about changes to the Electoral Code of Ukraine, including a message of the Central Election Commission on receiving a statement of claim and informing about the results of the case’s consideration. But before the changes, about claim filling was reported after commencement of proceedings. Now more attention is paid to the protection of gender equality not only in the new edition of the Electoral Code of Ukraine, but also in appeals to the court: there are claims of violation of the norms governing the observance of the gender quota.
Among special aspects of the consideration of electoral disputes are:
- notification of the parties in all possible ways not to delay the consideration of cases;
- texts of the decisions are announced in full, after the court session parties receive copies;
- plaintiffs in cases related to the electoral process, as a rule, are not exempted from paying court fees; however, failure to pay it is not a ground for leaving the statement of claim without progress. This detail is in order to make the process of case considering fast.
Procedural periods and their special aspects
The participants of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine were surprised by the procedural periods (a production in court, an appeal (5 days, 2 days; no later than 2 hours before the start of voting). In response, Yevhen Miezientsev noted that the electoral process is very short-lived and cases’ consideration shouldn’t affect on its stages.
Due to the shortened terms of consideration such cases, the court operates in a special working hours. A lawsuit, an appeal in electoral disputes can be filed twenty-four seven and hearings can take place at any time.
The participants asked question if the courts need changes in the timing of such cases for comfortable work. But Yevhen Miezientsev replied that the process of cases’ consideration had been brought to perfection. Of course, none of the judges relieves the obligation to hear other cases. However, the courts, in particular the Sixth ACA are quietly living this period. Moreover, the changes will affect the electoral process and by increasing the term, we will delay a trial for a long time, even six months.
Place of the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal in the election process
The Sixth ACA plays an important role in the election process, as we act as a court of both appellate and first instance. As a court of first instance, the Sixth ACA hears claims against the CEC during the election process. However, the Kyiv District Administrative Court hears claims against the CEC outside the election process, namely claims that are unrelated to the election or related but not filed during the election process.
Evaluation of the case related to the election process
Comparing with the regular elections of the President of Ukraine and the early elections to the Verkhovna Rada in 2019, Yevhen Miezientsev announced that at that time the Sixth ACA had considered several hundred election disputes. Majority of them were cases related to the propaganda activities. However, currently, 10 days before the voting day, October 25, only 109 of them, of which 71 cases had been considered as a court of appeal, 38 cases as a court of first instance. And here the appeal of procedure of nomination and registration of candidates prevails.
Also during the previous election processes, there were a large number of lawsuits filed by people's activists, "concerned citizens." However, now the list of cases for PR campaigns has decreased, the vast majority of lawsuits - around specific, real problems.
Training of judges
Prior to the election process, the Sixth ACA regularly conducted training seminars for judges of the first and appellate instances, prepared information booklets on the specifics of such cases, and involved the CEC legal department, which informed about the election process and the commission's schedule. This year, due to quarantine, it was not possible to gather judges, but the Sixth ACA prepared a booklet, which was sent to the courts of the first and appellate instances. The National School of Judges of Ukraine also issued a textbook "Local Elections 2020".