Weekly analytics for 11 — 17 January
Political Points of the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform include a weekly expert analysis of the most important process in Ukraine in areas of constitutionalism, political parties and elections, governance and public administration reform, judiciary, combating corruption, criminal justice, etc.
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The High Council of Justice Resumes Authority
On January 11-12, the Congress of Judges elected eight members of the High Council of Justice (hereinafter – HCJ), completely filling its quota in the Council’s membership.
- Filling all vacant positions by the Congress of Judges according to its own quota made it possible to restore the HCJ authority since, according to the law, the Council is competent when at least 15 elected (appointed) members, the majority of whom are judges (retired judges), are in its membership. At the same time, according to the assessments of relevant civic organizations, there were doubts regarding integrity for all selected candidates. Unfortunately, due to the secrecy of interviews conducted by the Ethics Council, it is currently impossible to determine whether the candidates managed to refute those expressed doubts.
- The HCJ’s assumption of power allows, first of all, to announce a competition for positions of disciplinary inspectors, in the absence of which the restoration of the disciplinary function of the HCJ is impossible. Furthremore, a competent Council is necessary to launch activity of the High Qualification Commission of Judges (hereinafter – HQCJ), since it will appoint candidates recommended by the Competition Commission to the positions. Currently the competition for the HQCJ is in its final stage, with 64 out of 301 candidates selected for interviews. The first interviews will be conducted on January 16 and, taking into account the pace set by the Commission under favorable conditions, winners of the competition can be announced as early as February.
- Since the Congress of Judges’ filling of its quota in the HCJ, six positions remain vacant – two positions each under the quotas of lawyers and prosecutors, and one position each under the President’s and scholars’ quotas.
State Anti-CorruptionPprogram was returned for revisions
On January 10, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine was supposed to approve the State Anti-Corruption Program for Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2021-2025 (SAP). However, the day before, the Government Committee on National Security, Defense and Law Enforcement, having reviewed the SAP draft in an expanded format, returned it for revision and provided the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption with instructions to conduct additional coordination procedures.
An effective system of preventing and countering corruption is not only one of the important demands of the Ukrainian society, but is also a requirement by Ukraine’s international partners. One of the items on the questionnaire for gaining the status of candidate for the EU membership by Ukraine required to indicate the presence of an Anti-Corruption Strategy. In June 2022, the Verkhovna Rada approved this document by adopting the Law «On the Principles of State Anti-Corruption Policy for 2021-2025».
Clause 4 of the Final Provisions of this Law contains instruction to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on approving the State Anti-Corruption Program for Implementation of the Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2021-2025 within six months from the date of entry into force of the Law. This term lasted from July 10, 2022 to January 10, 2023.
As noted in the text of the Anti-Corruption Strategy itself, the lack of program documents aimed at implementation of the state anti-corruption policy leads to imbalance and decrease in the efficiency of public institutions, and slows down the economic growth of the state. In the conditions of war, these issues become extremely urgent, since it is not so much about economic development as about its restoration and prevention of economic and social crises caused by constant attacks of the aggressor state.
According to Clause 1.3 of the Anti-Corruption Strategy, it is implemented through performance of the corresponding state anti-corruption program, and the measures containe by the SAP are binding within the established deadlines.
Furthermore, implementation of the SAP measures and their compliance with specified criteria are indicators of effectiveness of the Anti-Corruption Strategy, which affects the Corruption Perception Index and Ukraine’s position in the world corruption level rankings published annually by the international organization «Transparency International». The position in this rank reflects the state’s investment climate and is considered during attracting investments and providing international financial assistance.
As evident from the deadlines set by the Anti-Corruption Strategy, two years have effectively been lost, although during this time a number of expected strategic results could have been achieved. Therefore, further delay in the implementation of this document proportionally reduces its effectiveness and creates additional challenges for the state anti-corruption policy and Ukraine’s further integration into the EU.
The National Agency on Corruption Prevention made efforts to ensure transparency and inclusivity during development of the draft SAP, which occurred from July to December 2022. A total 11 public discussions were held and more than 80 state institutions provided their comments and suggestions, most of which were taken into account during the harmonization procedures. These measures contributed to the preparation of the most optimized state anti-corruption program in terms of content and structure, which should satisfy all interested parties and contribute to the Anti-Corruption Strategy’s effective implementation.
At the same time, the comments provided by certain authorities (e.g., the Antimonopoly Committee or the Council of Judges) were aimed at destroying the integrity of the SAP, removing or distorting measures that directly follow from the content of the Anti-Corruption Strategy. All these comments and suggestions could not be considered without additional, time-consuing coordination procedures.
The public (including the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform) and the international community have already called on the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to approve the draft SAP submitted in December and to use program revision procedure provided by the law for evaluating all submitted proposals and comments.
Considering the fact that the laws «On the principles of the state anti-corruption policy for 2021-2025» and «On the prevention of corruption» do not provide for the procedure for returning the SAP for revision and its reсonsideration, the decision by the Government Committee creates a dead-end situation of indefinitely delaying the Anti-Corruption Strategy implementation and threatens its implementation as a whole, and therefore may affect the processes of post-war reconstruction of Ukraine and its integration into the EU and NATO.
Draft Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Reform of Law Enforcement Bodies prepared to fulfill the EU recommendations was submitted to the Office of the President
On January 11, 2023, Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin reported that the draft Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Reform of Law Enforcement Bodies as a Part of Security and Defense Sector of Ukraine for 2023-2027 was developed by the Interdagency Working Group and submitted to the Office of the President of Ukraine for consideration and further approval by the President’s Decree, based on the President’s respective powers in the area of security and defense.
During the drafting of this document, the expert group processed a set of proposals and comments that helped to formulate six strategic priorities for the reform of law enforcement bodies as part of security and defense sector of Ukraine. This will allow to modernized and bring it in compliance with the standards that Ukraine must achieve on the path to the EU membership. The foundation for further steps on this path is also provide via the formation of an operational plan.
Strategic priorities for law enforcement reform include the following:
- Effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement bodies and the prosecutors office as an integral component of security and defense sector, within which they ensure national security of Ukraine, including public safety and order and crime prevention, taking into account strategic goals and in accordance with human rights standards, fundamental rights and freedoms, and the principles of gender equality.
- Consistent criminal policy, with a priority for prevention of crime, inevitability of responsibility, protection of individual, society and the state from criminal offenses, and ensuring a victim’s interests.
- Timeliness of criminal proceedings in compliance with international standards and the rule of law.
- Results-oriented management system based on the established priorities.
- Comprehensive digital transformation.
- Openness, transparency, accountability, independence, and political impartiality
On February 28, 2022, Ukraine submitted an application to join the European Union. On June 17, the European Commission, in its opinion regarding Ukraine, made recommendationsthat include the need to «adopt an overarching strategic plan for the reform of the entire law enforcement sector as part of Ukraine’s security environment».
The Criminal Justice Reform Concept for 2022-2030 was developed by the Office of the Prosecutor General as a coordinating body in the area of criminal justice even before the start of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation on February 24, 2022, although it was never adopted due to the start of the armed conflict.
Following the European Commission’s recommendations, the Ukrainian authorities significantly expanded the focus of state policy and concentrated on the development of a new document – the Comprehensive Strategic Plan for the Reform of Law Enforcement Bodies as a part of Ukraine’s security and defense sector for 2023-2027.
On November 11, 2022, the Interagency Working Group (IWG) was established by the Prosecutor General’s Order No. 248. Members of this group include leadership of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the State Security Service, the National Police, the Security Service, the State Border Guard Service, and the State Customs Service, as well as representatives of the Office of the President of Ukraine, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, international experts from EUAM, the EU PRAVO-JUSTICE project, the Office of the Council of Europe in Ukraine, the law enforcement office of the US Embassy in Ukraine, and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). Yevhen Krapyvin, expert of the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform on criminal justice matter, is also involved.
Currently, the text of Comprehensive Strategic Plan is not publicly available, as revisions are still possible. Given this fact, it is too early to talk about the quality of the document itself. We can only state that intentions to prepare a draft of such a document by the end of 2022, as declared at the highest state level, have been followed. We look forward to the quick approval of this document.