July 16, 2017

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Ukrainian NGOs call on the EU to Explain the Sudden Change of Its Position Regarding the Anticorruption Courts, which was Voiced by President Juncker at the Ukraine-EU Summit


Tough conditionalities as miracle makers for Ukrainian reformers: - launch of map.antac.org.ua


Unsuccessful attempts to abolish e-declarations for anticorruption activists: Rada refused to consider President’s bills
“Technological terrorism” as a new tool to pressurize free media and civil society


Immunity is Lifted, But Impunity Remains Untouched
NABU auditor from the Parliament not appointed, the issue postponed for Autumn. 


Amber Mafia Case of NABU: Transcripts Revealing the Corrupt Schemes



Supreme Court selection update


Civil society organizations are calling for a meeting with President Juncker to explain, why setting anticorruption chambers will just deepen the problem of impunity in Ukraine

 

Civil society organizations in their joint open call to the EU Commission are asking why the EU position regarding anticorruption court establishment was suddenly reversed.

At the press conference on July 13, 2017, in the follow-up of the Ukraine-EU Summit, Mr. Juncker said: “Till now the EU was requesting from Ukraine to create a special court in charge of corruption affairs. Now we agreed this morning that if Ukraine would introduce in its judicial system a chamber dedicated to dealing with this that would be sufficient.”

Such a statement reversed the EU policy towards the anticorruption court establishment in Ukraine in a way that it contradicts to the previous EU position, as well as the position of the IMF, USA, other international partners of Ukraine and civil society. The message of Juncker became also a surprise for the National Anticorrution Bureau of Ukraine, which immediately issued a statement warning why the anticorruption chambers in existing courts can not resolve the problem of lack of unbiased independent judiciary considering NABU cases. It is notable that Mr. Juncker voiced the new EU policy just 4 days after another world leaders expressed different policies.

Specifically, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated: “We also discussed the importance of implementing the anti-corruption reforms, because that too is an important element of attracting foreign direct investment and more business activity, which will create more jobs for Ukrainian citizens and grow the economy. This includes the important work Ukraine is doing to reform the justice sector. Ukraine’s commitment to selecting supreme court justices of the highest integrity and professionalism, and creating the anti-corruption court. These are essential first steps in reforming the judiciary, and has all too often not been progressed. And I know and you expressed your very sincere commitment to progressing the actual creation of the court and the appointment of judges with the highest integrity.”

Civil society organizations in their joint open call to the EU Commission are asking why the EU position regarding anticorruption court establishment was suddenly reversed and are calling for a meeting with President Juncker to provide him with arguments, why setting anticorruption chambers will just deepen the problem of impunity in Ukraine.

More to read: "NGOs, NABU criticize Juncker’s rejection of anti-corruption courts" by Oleg Sukhov for KyivPost.

Tough conditionalities as miracle makers

 

On July 11 Daria Kaleniuk, AntAC’s executive director together with MPs Hanna Hopko and Serhiy Leshchenko presented a unique online tool “Mapping anticorruption obligation of Ukraine - map.antac.org.ua.”

The online tool is aimed at monitoring Ukraine’s fulfillment of conditionalities of foreign support within the IMF-Ukraine Memorandums, EU-Ukraine Visa Liberalization Action Plan, EU State-Building Contract for Ukraine, and EU Macro-Financial Assistance Programs. The web-site will be regularly updated with the latest reforms news.

The map shows that 60% of anticorruption commitments were implemented in Ukraine, mostly in the spheres of access to public information, procurements and independent investigation of high profile corruption cases, which are the success stories of Ukraine’s anti-graft reform. “However, during the last months we were witnessing a number of severe attempts to roll back reforms achievements, so we launched this instrument of civil oversight to prevent their backsliding, as well as push forward implementation of the rest of the commitments“ - said Ms Kaleniuk.

Key-priorities which are still to be done by Ukraine are as follows: establishment of the separate anticorruption court with the special procedure for selecting judges, granting NABU with powers for independent wiretapping, ensuring independent and professional external audit of NABU, conducting verifications of e-declarations of senior public officials. For more details please see our presentation.

Unsuccessful attempts to abolish e-declarations for anticorruption activists: Rada refused to consider President’s bills

On July 8 the President submitted to the Parliament two bills: the amendments to the Law on corruption prevention (reg.No 6674) aimed at cancelling the obligation for anticorruption activists to submit asset e-declaration; and the amendments to the tax code (reg.No 6675) on tax reporting for the NGOs and entrepreneurs that receive money from international technical assistance (ITA).

For two times MPs failed to include the bills in the agenda - on July 11 and July 13, so their consideration in the best case scenario is postponed till September.

The President was ready to sign the bills and submit them to the Parliament last Friday, July 7, during an ad hoc meeting with the civil society representatives, organized by his Administration. Activists’ requests to get the text in advance were ignored, but even a shallow analysis at the very meeting showed a number of problematic provisions. Therefore Presidential Administration agreed to give activists a night to prepare and submit their proposals.

Most of AntAC’s proposals to the second bill No6675 were taken into account.

Nonetheless, the bill still includes some discriminatory provisions like obliging individual entrepreneurs who receive money directly from the donors to submit additional reports and introducing tough sanctions for non-submission or false statements, or imposing dubious reporting rules for the NGOs that leave loopholes for manipulations, which are to be corrected before the second reading. For more details please see our assessment.

 

“Technological terrorism” as a new tool to pressurize free media and civil society

 

On Thursday July 13 Rada intended but failed to include in its daily agenda a bill under reg. No6688 initiated by the MPs Vinnyk, Tymchuk and Chornovol that poses significant threat to the freedom of speech and civil activity.

It defines the influence with the use of informational sources over decision making by the authorities, municipalities and their officials as a technological terrorism. This regulation may cause any publicly announced critical statement regarding the authorities to be considered as a terrorism.

The bill empowers the SSS to shut down access to any web-site without court ruling, upon the decision of the prosecutor, investigator or RNBO, which significantly endangers the work of journalists and free media.

Immunity is Lifted, But Impunity Remains Untouched

Although last plenary week the Parliamentary Committee on the Rules of Procedure supported only 1 out of 5 requests of the PGO and the Specialized Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office, all of them together with an additional one on MP Dobkin were put on voting in the plenary.

Vicious circle and mutual cover up helped MPs Deydey and Lozovyi to save their immunity.

Half-steps were taken regarding two abovementioned “Amber Mafia” MPs Rozenblat and Polyakov: they lost their immunity, but the Rada didn’t grant consent for their arrest and detention. This undermines the efficiency of further investigative actions as the suspects may flee the country.

The Parliament also lifted the immunity of the MP Dovgyi.

However, the sixth MP Dobkin was finally allowed by the Parliament to be detained, and was arrested by the court on July 15 for 60 days with the alternative of 50 million UAH bail. And this became possible only due to people who went out to the street - huge peaceful rally took place in front of the Parliament all day long on July 13.

 

People were banging at the barrels and chiming, demanding the parliamentary immunity to be significantly limited, Dobkin’s immunity to be lifted and the request for his detention to be supported, and the bill on anticorruption court to be adopted.

NABU

NABU auditor from the Parliament not appointed, the issue postponed for Autumn

 

On July 13 the Parliament failed to appoint NABU auditor.

The day before the Committee on Combating Corruption recommended four people for consideration for NABU auditor position:

  1. Ukrainian law professor and human rights lawyer Oleksandra Yanovska (right on the photo);
  2. Ukrainian lawyer Sergiy Honcharenko;
  3. Former US prosecutor Martha Boersch (left on the photo);
  4. Former head of the Commission on Impunity in Guatemala Carlos Castresana.

On July 13 the Speaker of the Parliament put the issue of NABU auditor on voting despite the fact that Samopomich blocked the parliamentary tribune demanding to adopt bills on limiting immunity of Members of the Parliament and No6011 on the anticorruption court.

Results of voting for each of the four candidates were as follows: Yanovska - 207, Honcharenko - 22, Boersch - 111, Castresana - 110.

However, in the final voting Yanovska got only 216 votes out of 226 necessary for decision to be adopted, so she was not appointed as NABU auditor, although the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, the Narodnyi Front, the Opposition Bloc and the Vidrodzhennia factions supported her candidacy.

Spring session of the Parliament is over and MPs are off for summer recess. Since the commission on NABU audit may start working only after all three members are appointed, it is therefore postponed until autumn session, which starts in September.  

 

 

 

Amber Mafia Case: Transcripts Revealing the Corrupt Schemes

 

 

One of the brightest and much-discussed undercover operations recently conducted jointly by the NABU and the FBI is the so-called “Amber Case”.

In the course of investigation of top-corruption in amber extraction and selling in Rivne, Zhytomyr and Volyn Regions NABU initiated a special operation with the secret agent “Kateryna” acting as a representative of foreign construction company. She was interested in investing in legal extraction and exports of amber in case subject legislation is changed, which she was allegedly lobbying for with the help of two MPs - Rozenblat and Polyakov. The operation, which started in December 2016, ended up in June 2017 with Rozenblat’s assistant being caught red-handed at taking a bribe. Consequently, NABU filed requests to the Rada for lifting parliamentary immunity of figurants of the case and granting permission for their arrest and detention.

We recommend you to take a look at the long-read, prepared and released by NABU on this case. The publIcation contains transcripts in English of undercover recordings of communication between agent “Kateryna” and MP Rozenblat. These conversation provide light and understanding on how grand political corruption circle operate in Ukraine on the example of illegal amber mining.  It comes not only as precise illustration of insolence and self-confidence of Ukrainian top-corruptioners, but also as a proof of good communications practices of new law enforcement agency: http://article.nabu.gov.ua/page1203954.html 

 

In the end, in order to thank agent “Kateryna” for brilliant work investigative journalists brought her a few bouquets of flowers.

Their costs, by the way, does not exceeed legislatively allowed limits :)

 

 

 

Supreme Court Selection: Updates

 

As of July 14, the HIgh Qualification Commission of Judges (HQCJ) has considered 100 of 110 negative opinion of the Public Integrity Council (PIC). Overall result of consideration of negative opinions of the PIC by the HQCJ is:

 

25
candidates were disqualified based on the  negative opinions of the PIC

75
negative opinions of the PIC were overruled by the Commission

 

Among others, the HQCJ overruled negative opinion regarding the judge Kozyr, who legalized acquisition of the scandalous state-owned residence Mezhyhirya by a company related to Yanukovych.

It is expected that the HQCJ will finish consideration of negative opinions of the PIC already neхt week.

After this the HQCJ is expected to comply ratings of the candidates for each of four cassation courts within the Supreme Courts, to define a pass rate and to shortlist candidates for consideration by the High Council of Justice. Informally the Head of the HQCJ Koziakov claims that pass rate will be established equal to the score of 30th candidate in each of the rating, because the commission had initially opened a competition for 120 positions in the new Supreme Court. According to the law, the High Council of Justice also has an authority to disqualify candidates from the list offered by the HQCJ.

Taking into account the number of overruled negative opinions regarding the candidates, we do not feel that fulfilling all 120 positions in new Supreme Court is justified. According to the law, only 65 judges must be appointed for the Supreme Court to become operational. We believe that within the current round of the competition the HQCJ should approve the minimum required 65 judges, while the remaining 55 can be selected during the next round after the legislation on selection process is improved.