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Does being lame duck mean lame legislation? RADA Ukraine

August 14, 2014

As seems clear, and as was predicted months ago, the current RADA is likely to be officially dissolved in full compliance with The Constitution of Ukraine, on (or about) 24th – 26th August (11 – 13 days from now), in order to meet political time tables to allow for new RADA elections to take place on the same date as the scheduled local elections – 26th October.

As such, whilst the current RADA is as yet not officially a lame duck, it is certainly a lame duck in waiting – and knows that it is such.

It would be fair to say that many current RADA MPs are unlikely to return following the 26th October polling.  Those who are not returned will lose their immunity and thus ability to act with absolute impunity.  Understandably many of those that will be rightfully sacrificed at the alter of public opinion are less than willing to play an active and productive role for the remainder of their terms.

Others, who will survive, continue to churn out truly dreadfully crafted legislation.  There is nothing unusual in that, for the feckless bunch have consistently churned out truly awful legislation, despite having a choice of 28 European nations with similar legislation to copy – or at least plagiarise – with a few Ukraine-centric nuances and tweaks.

One would be forgiven for wondering just how difficult that apparently is – despite more than a few plagerised dissertations behind the academic awards held by some of these legislators.

Yesterday at the RADA, a dismal example of a lame duck (in waiting) legislature combined with the usually atrocious crafting of legislation, came to pass.

Bills on electoral reform – not necessarily well timed so close to an election albeit understandable – and a law on lustration failed to get adopted – That lustration laws were not adopted is unsurprising when many soon to be ejected from the RADA by public vote are likely to be subjected to any lustration law.  Turkeys and Christmas and all that.

Three or four laws did pass – with acceptable, or below par crafting naturally.

However, perhaps the most odious and clearly draconian law of the day was adopted at its first reading.  A law specifically designed to censor the media.  Perhaps well meaning during this time of war and obscene porpaganda, but entirely wrong nonetheless.  It prompted this immediate response from OSCE:

“I call on the members of the Verkhovna Rada to drop the provisions of the law endangering media freedom and pluralism and going against OSCE commitments on free expression and free media.

“I fully understand the national security concerns expressed by the Government of Ukraine in relation to the ongoing conflict, but this should not justify a disproportionate restriction on freedom of expression and freedom of the media.  The measures included in the draft law represent a clear violation of international standards and thus directly curtail the free flow of information and ideas – the concept that lies at the heart of free expression and free media. The draft law effectively reverses much of Ukraine’s progress in media freedom.

All citizens must have the right to access all available information, irrespective of its source, without interference from the authorities and regardless of geographical or political boundaries, so that universally recognised human rights and democratic processes can be reaffirmed and strengthened.” – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović

Quite rightly too – the law is absolutely awful as currently written and desperately needs to be rethought or rewritten to keep Ukraine within the international obligations under numerous Charters and Treaties it is a ratified signatory of.

If a genuine and consolidated democracy is where the current leadership and political class have finally decided to take Ukraine, then that – in part – requires adhering to the international obligations it has undertaken with integrity (even when they are not politically expedient to uphold).

The Ukrainian political class need to put an end to rule by law and act within the rule of law, even in the circumstances Ukraine currently finds itself.  Basic freedoms and democracy are not something that can be shelved and replaced by Soviet-esque diktats in difficult times – especially so in difficult times – if they are to ever become the consolidated spine of the nation.

A lame duck RADA does not need to produce lame legislation – particularly when that legislation is crafted by MPs that are likely to survive the culling at the ballot box in October.

Fortunately, whilst there be a war on in the east keeping the attention of many, plenty of domestic and international good governance/democratic eyes remain focused on the activities of the RADA and the legislation it produces.

Perhaps, following on from yesterday’s entry, there is some scope within, to produce a programme that would teach the feckless political legislators how to craft robust, clearly defined and unambiguous laws, that hold fundamental justice, State integrity, fairness and proportionality at their core.

It could be named “Legislate in haste – repent at leisure” – as now the RADA is faced with the choice of passing this law at the second reading and forcing the President to veto it, dropping it altogether, or significantly rewriting it in way that that it could and should have been written in the first place.

Significant European and international support for Ukraine will be lost should this law make it all the way onto the statute books.

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