Immunity, impunity and non-liability – A VR fail again?

July 14, 2017

The reformist parliamentarians are not happy.

Once again, despite promises to do so, the Verkhovna Rada has failed to abolish parliamentary immunity en masse from its members.

Way back in November 2014, when the newly formed “post-revolutionary” Verkhovna Rada first made this promise, an entry was written pondering just what degree of immunity, non-liability and inviolability would result – listing all the variants currently operating across Europe.  Surely from among so many, the Verkhovna Rada would not have to reinvent the wheel?

Needless to say a very premature entry, for absolute immunity and impunity remains.

It remains to be seen if the Verkhovna Rada will manage to avoid addressing the issue in the Autumn plenary session once again.  After all it requires constitutional change and the political will to change it.

Article 154 of the Constitution states there are but two ways to introduce amendments for consideration when attempting to change it – firstly a submission to the Verkhovna Rada by the President, or secondly by not less than 1/3rd of the parliamentarians agreeing to introduce amendments.

Ergo in practical terms 150 current MPs need sign a motion to introduce amendments removing parliamentary immunity for parliamentary vote if the President does not – and for the purposes of public perception it is surely better self-generated when it comes to removing your own immunity than coming from the President.

Lo it has come to pass that on the final day of the current plenary session, 150 parliamentary signatories have been found – even if the proposed degree of immunity, non-liability and inviolability is not entirely clear .  (Photo courtesy of Alexie Goncharenko who is a signatory).  After all most nations afford their parliamentarians some limited legal protection in the course of their political duties.  A robust non-liability that provides for the sensible exercising of strictly legitimate political engagement,  combined with the minimum possible inviolability (if any at all), to definitively display that absolute immunity with impunity is over in Ukraine should be the goal

Whether a constitution changing 300 votes will be found remains to be seen.  Nevertheless 150 parliamentary signatories have paved the way for an attempt at a self-generated en masse immunity removal – and presumably there are now at least 150 votes in favour of doing so.

Another complete Verkhovna Rada fail again – or half a step toward progress?  How many, if any, among the 150 signatories are signatories that are simply there to be seen whilst holding the belief that sufficient number of peers cannot be found to arrive at the desired constitution changing 300?  A matter of PR rather than desire or expectation of success?

Whatever the case, it seems now far more difficult to simply ignore the matter throughout the Autumn plenary session.

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