Section 1. Monitoring of the implementation of recommendations on reform priorities for 2020– May 2021
After seven years of working on the creation and development of anti-corruption infrastructure, we faced the threat of its destruction due to the abolition of legislation by the decision of the CCU. In addition, in the face of a completely new challenge in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are facing a change of policy and a departure from the reform agenda. In March 2020, there were significant personnel changes in the government and among the state authorities in general. The passion for reforms and their results has significantly subsided. Nevertheless, work on legislative initiatives continued in order to overcome the crisis of the constitutional judiciary, restore the full functionality of the NACP and ensure the work of other anti-corruption infrastructure bodies.
Following the results of 2020, NABU detectives once again broke their own record, issuing the suspicion to 201 people (in 2019 - 153 people). In the context of the two half-years of 2020, the first was more productive - 125 suspects against 76 in the second half of the year. A certain decline in the activity of investigations is explained by the absence of the head of the SAPO, who by law must sign the suspicions of a number of officials under investigation by NABU. In total, in 2020, NABU and SAPO prevented the theft of resources of state-owned enterprises by more than UAH 800 million, and more than a billion were returned at the stage of pre-trial investigation.
A significant challenge for Ukraine is the lack of an effective system of checks and balances, which can only be built by strengthening the efficiency and independence of institutions. Ukraine is a parliamentary-presidential republic and must meet all the criteria of this form of government.
Some of the challenges described in the 2019 Toronto Principles are still relevant. The NABU audit has not been conducted yet. Confidence in the SAPO needs to be restored. The head of the SAPO has resigned, the acting chairman is his deputy, but part of the powers are vested in the Prosecutor General, who makes the institution dependent on his Office. The current selection procedure provides for a crucial role in the competition committee with representatives of Parliament, so it is important to change it. Additional guarantees of the independence of the SAPO as an independent institution have not been introduced.
The cornerstone of the SBU's reform is to deprive the body of its pre-trial investigation functions. This proposal is currently being implemented in the draft law and deserves support, but in order to fully deprive the investigation, the parliament must also adopt amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. Unfortunately, such changes to the code are not considered by the Parliament, which may indicate the intention to actually maintain the function of the SBU investigation.
The implementation of sectoral reforms should prevent corruption, as it is often the result of poor governance and lack of reform. However, such sectoral reforms are often unsystematic, incomplete, unsupported and not adequately funded due to institutional weaknesses in government, low salaries of civil servants, which leads to negative staffing, lack of a project approach to change, and weaknesses in institutions.
The unreformed judiciary remains the biggest threat to the sustainability of reforms in all areas. The Parliament passed Law № 193-IX of 16 October 2019 on the reset and cleansing of the judiciary, but most provisions of the law were later declared unconstitutional. Thus, from November 2019 to May 2021, no progress was made in this direction.
1. The Parliament shall:
- ensure effective cleansing of the judiciary from dishonest judges at all levels; unblock reform through the immediate adoption of laws that will restart the judiciary - the High Council of Justice and the High Qualifications Commission of Judges, reduce the influence of the High Council of Justice on the implementation of judicial reform and, consequently, minimize the possibility of its further sabotage. judicial authorities, change the procedure for dismissal of dubious judges of the Supreme Court;
- pass a law on the principles of state anti-corruption policy for the years 2021-2025;
- adopt a law on strengthening criminal liability for false declarations;
- improve the law on NABU to eliminate provisions that could potentially be declared unconstitutional; to guarantee the impossibility of early dismissal of the current head of NABU;
- improve the competitive procedure for selecting the Director of NABU, to ensure the involvement of international experts and giving them a decisive role in the selection process; to approve the election of one candidate instead of two candidates for the position;
- change the competitive procedure for selecting the head of the SAPO, ensure the involvement of international experts and give them a crucial role in the selection process, provide additional guarantees of the independence of the SAPO as an independent institution;
- launch a transparent competition for the head of ARMA and adopt a law for more effective implementation of ARMA's asset management function;
- adopt a new law on the SBU to deprive it of uncharacteristic law enforcement and anti-corruption, economic crime and organized crime powers, turning the SBU into an intelligence agency focused on combating terrorism and countering foreign intelligence;
- permanently deprive the National Police of the right to investigate economic crimes;
- improve the legislation on the institution of parliamentary immunity by abolition of the monopoly of the Prosecutor General in terms of inclusion of information in the Unified Register of pre-trial investigations;
- ensure the obligation to conduct and take into account conclusions of anti-corruption examination of draft regulations and current regulations.
2. To the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine - to approve and implement an effective mechanism for verification of beneficial owners.
3. To the heads of central executive bodies and anti-corruption commissioners, with the assistance and coordination of the renewed NACP - to focus on identifying and eliminating factors that allow them to commit corruption offenses.
The NACP needs to ensure its independence and strengthen the professional level and effectiveness of the Commissioners for Prevention and Combating Corruption. Develop and implement tools for effective involvement of the expert community in the development and monitoring of anti-corruption programs of government and local self-government.
4. To the Parliament and NACP - to improve the general principles and features of private party financing; to increase the efficiency of the system of state financing of parties; to increase the effectiveness of state control and legal responsibility for compliance with the legislation on party financing; to restrict televised political advertising (agitation) on national and regional media.