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A PGO General Inspectorate – Ukraine

August 8, 2016

Ukraine has structural problems with State institutions is how they are held accountable – and by whom.

For example, who polices the police, who polices the police police, who decides, and who decides who decides?

A recent example of how such matters can be poorly managed and as a result poorly perceived was written about only a few days ago when the Prosecutors Office took on the agency which among other duties is the prosecutor of prosecutors agency.  A PR disaster easily avoided that could have been handled infinitely better was the result – notwithstanding any lasting yet avoidable damage within the institutions themselves.

There are tried and tested hierarchical and horizontal solutions of course, but ultimately it comes down to institutional integrity and independence when it comes to State institutions holding themselves and each other to account.

PGO

8th August witnessed Prosecutor General Lutsenko sign a Decree creating a PGO General Inspectorate – its declared function to oversee the legality of actions undertaken by prosecutors and investigators throughout the whole prosecution system.

It is, or will be, an entirely new body to the PGO machinery.

So who decides who will be employed within this new entity within the PGO empire? – Deputy Prosecutor General Anzhela Stryzhevska and former U.S. Federal Prosecutor and Assistant U.S. Attorney of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crime Unit Bohdan Vitvitsky.

Of the final team, 5 will be members of the public selected by Mr Vitvitsky following (a voluntary IQ test) and checks regarding legislative knowledge, the best of which will then subsequently be interviewed.  Applicants and process progress will appear upon the PGO website (it is claimed).

Successful General Inspectorate employees will be paid twice that of prosecutors.

So far so good.

As always there are questions regarding process, timeliness, and the longevity of the new institution itself.

As the General Inspectorate is being created by a Lutsenko Decree, it follows that such a Decree can be as easily canceled by any subsequent Prosecutor General.  Therefore, a Decree is simply not a substantial enough legislative platform upon which to base this new entity.  Verkhovna Rada legislation will be required to enshrine its being into law and by extension require a Verkhovna Rada majority to remove the entity in the future too – making it far more durable and far less dependent upon any particular Prosecutor General’s whim.

There are also budgetary questions and the matter of civil service grading of employees to determine.

The question of timeliness cannot be avoided either – for Ukraine’s external supporters are very clearly running out of patience.  If the Ukrainian elite believe that those supporters have no choice but to support it, they are deluded.  They may continue to champion the rule of law and thus continue to issue statements and/or act in support of Ukrainian territorial integrity, but that does not equate to the continuing support and funding of internal reform programmes in the face of consistently slow progress and deliberate obstructionism.  Nobody expects a “new Ukraine” to be built in a day – but all expect a good days work toward that end from those tasked with that chore.

That message regarding rapidly expiring patience would appear to have reached the Lutsenko ear, and what’s more has prima facie been heard and understood.  Thus the application window for those applying for positions within the new General Inspectorate runs from 10th August to 10th September.

Thereafter Lutsenko expects an almost immediate commencement of its function (perhaps dependent upon the Verkhovna Rada legislative timetable – perhaps not).

It also remains somewhat unclear as to exactly what powers the General Inspectorate will have – or not.  If “not”, how binding would their “recommendations” be upon those that hold the requisite powers to fulfill such “recommendations”?  (For example how does/will it fit with NABU (which is clearly fighting for its independence) the competencies and independence of which are already clearly identified within national statute?)

Some months ago when pondering what to expect of Mr Lutsenko as PGO, the blog stated thus“Much will depend upon how a reader decides to judge any Lutsenko term as Prosecutor General.  If the benchmarks are to be weighted in terms of numerous high profile prosecutions providing for lengthy jail terms then a reader may well be disappointed.  If a reader weights benchmarks toward institutional change then they may perhaps be far less disappointed……”

We perhaps now witness the beginning of those predicted institutional changes.

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