From February to March 2021, the USAID New Justice Program conducted a round of national surveys regarding trust and confidence in the judiciary, other branches of power and social institutes, judicial independence and accountability, perception of corruption in the judiciary, and readiness to report on it.
The surveys were conducted nationwide in Ukraine except for occupied Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast outside government control. They are separate for two specific groups of respondents, including the general public and legal professionals who participated in court proceedings and are not judges or court staff, e.g., advocates and prosecutors. The general public survey engaged more than 2,000 respondents, and the survey of advocates and prosecutors engaged over 630 respondents.
- Trust in the judiciary, and other branches of power is on a negative trend. Only 10% of the general public admitted that they fully or mostly trust in the judiciary. The figure for the previous survey conducted by the USAID New Justice Program at the end of 2018 was 16%. Only 7% of the public reported that they trust the Cabinet of Ministers with the same 7% level of trust in the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament). In 2018, these figures were slightly higher – 13% and 11%, respectively. Meanwhile, trust in the President increased from 15% in 2018 to 25% in 2021.
- The level of public trust in the mass media increased to 36% in 2021 against 31% in 2018, and trust in NGOs increased to 35% from 29% in 2018.
- Legal professionals with experience in courts also notably lost trust in the judiciary and GOU branches. 40% reported that they trust those courts where they provide legal representation, and 27% reported that they trust the judiciary overall as a branch of power. The USAID New Justice Program’s previous survey of legal professionals in 2019 reported markedly higher rates at 56% trust in specific courts and 44% trust in the judiciary in general. The level of trust of advocates and prosecutors in most Government of Ukraine and social institutions decreased; however, their trust in private enforcement agents significantly increased to 31% in 2021 from 25% in 2019.
- General public awareness of judicial reform is very low, with only 9% of respondents indicating that they have deep or at least basic knowledge about reforms. In 2018, this figure was 16%.
- 64% of the general public believe that bribery is standard practice in Ukrainian courts, and only 8% believe that judges always adopt lawful and fair decisions.
- 14% of the general public reported that they had experience participating in court proceedings at least once during the last 24 months. Their perception of courts is more positive than the general population. 62% of court users admitted that there were no requests for bribes, unofficial payments, or gifts in their experience in courts, and 46% admitted that judges adopted lawful and fair decisions. 35% of respondents with court experience reported that they trust those courts where they participated in judicial proceedings.
- 49% of advocates and prosecutors believe that the engagement of public representatives in judicial selection and performance evaluation processes is justified, and 57% think that engaging international community representatives in the process of selecting High Anti-Corruption Court judges were justified.
- Only 22% of advocates and prosecutors indicated that their most recent court cases were considered lawfully and fairly, and only 38% admitted that judges, in general, adopted lawful and fair decisions. In 2019, these numbers were 56% and 60% accordingly. 46% of advocates and prosecutors agreed that in their recent court experience, there were no signs that the judge acted under the influence of another party or any individuals, which is notably less than in 2019 at 68%.
- The most important positive trend revealed by 2021 surveys is a general decrease in tolerance for corruption and an increased willingness to report on it. 42% of the general public indicated that they would report a request for a bribe to receive a favorable court decision to law enforcement or anti-corruption authorities. This figure was just 20% in 2018.
- 77% of advocates and prosecutors agree that a judge aware of corruption among his/her colleagues must immediately report this to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) or other law enforcement agencies, which is higher than 63% in 2019. Meanwhile, 32% will report corruption in courts to NABU and 24% to other law enforcement agencies, which is also better than 2019 and 15% and 12% respectively.
Overview of the Results of National Surveys of the Public and Justice Sector Professionals Participating in Court Proceedings Regarding Trust in the Judiciary, Judicial Independence and Accountability, Perception of and Reporting Corruption
Survey of Legal Professionals Participating in Court Proceedings Who are not Judges or Court Staff Regarding Trust in the Judiciary, Judicial Independence and Accountability, Perception of and Reporting Corruption