In young and fragile democracies, the judiciary and public prosecutors are frequently instrumentalized for political gain. This is all the more damaging, given the key role played by judges and prosecutors in advancing the rule of law and the fight against corruption.
Despite the different sizes of the two countries, justice sector reforms in Ukraine and Moldova have run into similar problems.
The comparison enables conclusions regarding structural problems and typical challenges for implementing essential judicial reforms at a time when the course that the Eastern Partnership will take in its second decade is being adjusted.
Lough and Rusu conclude that justice sector reforms did not take sufficient account of the underlying systems that were hostile to change and created a chicken and egg situation: Reformers viewed judicial reform as a catalyst for systemic transformation, yet the old model of governance prevented it from playing this role.
This vicious circle has contributed to the impression that both countries are caught in an endless cycle of failed anti-corruption reforms that no amount of western assistance can break.
The study offers five key recommendations for international partners of Ukraine and Moldova engaged in advancing the rule of law:
- Take greater account of how the governance systems function and consider the impact justice sector and anti-corruption reforms will have in the context of these systems.
- Speak openly about the factors inhibiting reform of the justice sector, including political influence over it as well as the culture of judges, investigators and prosecutors.
- Develop programs that encourage cultural change in organizations with strong in-built identities and interests. Business organizations have considerable expertise to offer in change management.
- Building new anti-corruption institutions and reforming the justice sector must go hand in hand and include investigative and prosecutorial agencies.
- Open the judiciary’s ranks to outsiders, particularly experienced lawyers, and move away from a career model for judges that encourages the formation of a “judicial corporation”.