Archive for February 27th, 2018

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Anti-corruption court legislation – Supporting a poor law on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada this week

February 27, 2018

It’s been a while since the blog made mention of the draft anti-corruption court legislation submitted by The Bankova in December 2017 (the submission deliberately timed to avoid any vote upon it during 2017).

The IMF, World Bank, EU, USA, Canada, Japan and numerous other “supportive nations and entities” all followed either publicly or privately with terse and prickly commentary regarding the text of Draft Bill submitted by The Bankova.

Yet it appears that Draft Bill 7440 (unchanged from The Bankova submission that drew such ire) will be included by hook or by crook upon the Verkhovna Rada agenda this week – possibly resulting in a vote on Thursday 1st March 2018.

Clearly the Presidential Draft 7440 stands far more chance of getting past the Verkhovna Rada Profile Committee and making it to a vote this week than the other existing and submitted drafts relating to the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Court by lesser legislative mortals.

Ergo Draft Bills 7440-2, 7440-3 and 7440-4 are all likely to be put to the Profile Committee sword, ne’er to see a parliamentary vote.

A keen-eyed reader will note the absence of a Draft Bill 7440-1 mentioned above.

To be clear, Draft Bill 7440-1 is another Bankova Draft Bill that relates to amendments to the law on the judiciary and status of judges, and is aimed at synchronising that existing legislation with Draft Bill 7440.

Thus a reader may reasonably expect that both Draft Bill 7440 and 7440-1 will find the necessary votes within the Verkhovna Rada this week – on the proviso the relevant Profile Committee fast tracks the Draft Bills with a favourable nod to the parliamentary chamber for vote.

However, despite The Bankova draft bill causing consternation among almost all external “supporters” of Ukraine, the passing at the first reading of Bill 7440 (and 7440-1) should probably be viewed as progress.

From a Bankova perspective the Bill and its passing will have dragged on sufficiently to wind down the legislative clock some, and further make a fully functioning anti-corruption court almost an impossibility prior to the 2019 elections of for both president and Verkhovna Rada.

From a societal and external “supporter” perspective there is legislative progress – albeit closer The Bankova timetable than that which could otherwise be achieved with genuine political will – of which there is little (as evident from the Draft Bill text that clearly requires amendment to produce a genuinely independent anti-corruption court of integrity).

What will matter then are the amendments that occur between the passing of the Bill at its first reading (possibly on 1st March) and the subsequent passing of a final reading prior to presidential signature and publication.

Readers of the blog over the years have become well acquainted with the masses of amendments that occur between readings – sometimes amendments in counted in the thousands, often in the hundreds, and occasionally in far fewer quantities relating to almost all Verkhovna Rada legislation.  There have been occasions whereby a law passed in its first reading is substantially amended both in text and spirit, prior to a second and final reading.

Thus, despite the significant issues within the current text of The Bankova Draft Bill, should this law make it through a first reading this week, it should be perhaps considered progress – despite the current contents that brought such a barbed reaction from many quarters.

As such perhaps a little objectivity should be given to the probable wailing and lamenting that may yet fill the media space based upon the current text of Draft Bill 7440.

What will result from a successful first Verkhovna Rada reading and vote will assuredly not be the final text after a second successful Verkhovna Rada vote some months from now.  Of crucial importance is the quality and acceptability of all (and there will be many) amendments put forward to arrive at a final text.

This process will, naturally, run down the legislative and electoral campaign clock per Bankova design, whilst still being seen to be doing something – albeit none are blind to what The Bankova is doing or why.

So, should a reader support the passing of the currently flawed Bankova Bill 7440 relating to the Anti-Corruption Court by the Verkhovna Rada this week?

The answer – Yes.  The alternative is to await the withdrawal of the Draft Bill and a re-submission of another more acceptable Draft, which is hardly a timely bureaucratic affair.

Then it is a matter of keeping a hawkish eye upon both the nature and quality of amendments, and also just how far The Bankova can run down the clock to insure that such a court will not be functioning before 2020.

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