Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Stanislav Shevchuk, "We must have courage to drop out of line"
On April 19, 2018 the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Stanislav Shevchuk held a meeting with the public.
The interactive lecture was initiated by the League of Students of the Ukrainian Bar Association in Kyiv in order to engage the public into a deeper understanding of the activity of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and its role in a democratic society.
During the meeting, the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Stanislav Shevchuk, shared his life experience, and provided some facts that had influenced the choice of profession in his life. In addition, the speaker described in detail the work of the body of constitutional jurisdiction in Ukraine and the principles of its functioning, the reform of the judicial system and decisions adopted by the Court.
"When I became a judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, during the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, it was clear to me that a new Constitutional Court was to be built," said the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. He said that on the day after he sworn in as a judge, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine adopted the decision in the case upon the constitutional petition of the Acting President of Ukraine, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Authorised Human Rights Representative of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on conformity with the Constitution of Ukraine (constitutionality) of the Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea "On conducting all-Crimean Referendum" (the case on holding local referendum in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea)". In its decision, the Court declared the referendum in the Crimea as unconstitutional," he added.
The Court’s Chairman stressed that the Constitutional Court of Ukraine decided not to keep silence on the annexation of the Crimea, and therefore some measures were taken, in particular, the Memorandum of Cooperation with the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation was terminated. "If there hadn’t been respective decision of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, there would have been neither annexation of the Crimea, nor deaths in the Donbass," Stanislav Shevchuk stressed.
The Chairman of the Constitutional Court also told the participants that back in 2015 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine together with representatives of the constitutional courts of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland signed "The joint statement concerning respect for territorial integrity and international law in administering constitutional justice". And in 2018, he continued, the Association of Constitutional Justice of the Countries of the Baltic and Black Sea Regions adopted "The Statement on condemning and persecuting aggression and violations of human rights in the occupied territories of the BBCJ members". "Crimea is the territory of Ukraine, and we will definitely come back there," said Stanislav Shevchuk.
The Chairman of the Court noted that the Constitutional Court of Ukraine serves only the Constitution of Ukraine, which is the constituent act of the people. As Hans Kelsen said, "The constitution without a Constitutional Court is like a sun that shines but does not heat up."
Stanislav Shevchuk stressed that when one becomes a judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, he or she must disappear from political radar. The speaker also noted that judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine cannot keep in line as in the army. "We must have the courage to drop out of line," he added.
The Chairman of the Court told the participants about the implementation of the Law of Ukraine "On the Constitutional Court of Ukraine". The speaker also paid special attention to the constitutional complaint institute, which is one of the important achievements of constitutional reform.
In his opinion, this mechanism is a "revolution", because now a citizen can challenge any law if he or she believes that this law violates his or her rights. Stanislav Shevchuk also added that the constitutional complaint makes it possible for citizens to be protected from arbitrariness of laws through the Constitutional Court, and it is therefore important that people understand how to properly apply this right. "Now it is important for us to explain to the public how to protect ourselves in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine by means of the constitutional complaint." And this must be done through communication with society, since communication is an element of democracy that we protect", said the speaker.
"The civil society that is being formed now demands justice. I believe that our public and fair dialogues will become a prerequisite for returning the faith to the Constitution of Ukraine, and the Constitutional Court will become a fair arbiter between the state and society, the guarantor of observance of a fair Social Contract, which is our Constitution", stressed Stanislav Shevchuk.
He also noted that the way to consideration of constitutional complaints is already open, as the Court adopted the Rules of Procedure, established the Senates and the Boards. "This mechanism will change the face of the Ukrainian legal system, because it is the instrument which a citizen can apply for his legal protection," added the speaker.
The Chairman of the Court stressed that the first experience of addressing constitutional complaints evidence a lack of understanding of the nature of this institution. In particular, according to Stanislav Shevchuk, the most common mistakes of the complainants is that they do not indicate exactly which constitutional right was violated, do not take into account the timing for filing a complaint and the condition regarding the final decision of the court of appeal or cassation instance. "There is a large number of complaints against the Supreme Court decisions, motivated by disagreement with the decision as a whole," he added.
The Chairman of the Court also said that more than 600 constitutional complaints had already been received by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, of which only 145 were found to meet the formal requirements of the Law and distributed among judges.
According to the Chairman of the Court, the ECHR and the Constitution of Ukraine, have a common legal nature, thus, the constitutional complaint institute is intended, to a certain extent, to transfer the resolution of the issues of restoration of violated human rights from the international to the national level. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine, added Stanislav Shevchuk, has succeeded to form the basis of the doctrine of a friendly treatment to international law in adopting decisions and providing opinions. He emphasised that the established practice of the European Court of Human Rights is a source of law for the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. "It is important to act together and avoid contradictions with the ECHR," continued the speaker.
In the opinion of Stanislav Shevchuk, the importance and complexity of the activity of the Court is in the fact that it is the Constitutional Court of Ukraine with a very responsible task - to defend the supremacy of the Constitution of Ukraine. "There are no simple cases in the Court," added the speaker. The Chairman of the Court emphasised that the Court is ready to respond adequately and effectively to the challenge facing it.
The Court’s Chairman stressed that the society needs an independent Constitutional Court. "People are looking for justice, despairing of the authorities, and in this issue they are counting on the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and our main task is to protect people from the state," he said. Therefore, Stanislav Shevchuk continued, it is important to restore confidence in the Court, in particular through the exercise of its powers. "We need to work and protect people, and then people will believe us," said S. Shevchuk, and noted that the Constitutional Court has nothing but authority of its own decisions.
A public meeting of this kind took place for the first time. The warm atmosphere encouraged a constructive and meaningful dialogue. At the end of the meeting, the participants thanked the Chairman for the courage to take part in this event and expressed their hopes for continuing the practice of such events.