On March 15, in response to the war in Ukraine, the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) organized a special seminar during which Vsevolod Kniaziev, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, informed his EU colleagues about the current situation in the country. It was emphasized that judges and their families are currently under real threat in the Russian-occupied territories. Litigation is also seriously threatened, as all case files are in paper form, in many cases they have been destroyed by the bombing of court buildings or are not available because they are located in the occupied territories. Communication with court presidents is very difficult or even impossible. One regional court judge has been killed. Nevertheless, judges who are physically able to do so continue to perform their duties. Vsevolod Kniaziev requested the national judiciaries to actively encourage their national politicians to promote Ukraine's EU and NATO integration processes.

Sigita Rudėnaitė, President of the Lithuanian Judicial Council, Ján Mazák, President of the Slovak Judicial Council, and Solvita Harbaceviča, Adviser to the President of the Latvian Judicial Council, presented proposals for the next steps of the European judiciary and the assessment of the situation. Sigita Rudėnaitė suggested that the necessary steps have been taken immediately to admit the Ukrainian Judicial Council as an observer to the ENCJ. Solvita Harbaceviča proposed to establish permanent contacts between certain courts of Ukraine and EU member states in order to cooperate more effectively, both in providing the necessary assistance during the war and later in the process of European integration. She also called on colleagues to bear in mind the principles enshrined in the Treaty on European Union, namely that in its external relations the Union upholds and promotes its values, encourages peace, security and strict observance and development of international law, including the compliance with the Charter of the United Nations principles in order to support Ukraine.

The ENCJ will continue to maintain direct contact with its Ukrainian colleagues and will respond promptly to developments in the situation. Representatives of several Member States expressed their readiness to accommodate the families of Ukrainian judges who had left the country.

Two representatives of Latvia participated in the seminar organized by the ENCJ: Solvita Harbaceviča, Adviser to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the issues of the Judicial Council, and Dace Šulmane, Adviser to the Secretariat of the Judicial Council.


Information prepared by Dace Šulmane, Adviser to the Secretariat of the Judicial Council