Posts Tagged ‘UK’

h1

In search of sponsors in a sea of EU/US grant money – Ukraine

April 8, 2015

Only in exceptional circumstances does this blog become even remotely personal in its content – and this will be one of few occasions.

It is very rare that the civil society activities of this blog are ever mentioned within it – and never in detail if they are.  There are reasons for that, which are mostly due to your author’s desire to avoid smudging the lines between a hobby, as is this blog – and things that actually matter, both personally and to wider society in Odessa and Ukraine.

If this blog stopped tomorrow, the author would have an extra free 15 minutes each day, and you, dear readers, would have an additional 2 minutes each day to read something more erudite.

However, some months ago, the blog was approached by some members of the Ukrainian academia, with specific aims, looking to reach out to the wider western academic world.  There are, of course, several existing programmes to achieve such ends.  However, in this instance it was not a matter of joining a programme, taking some grant money, and then enjoying – or not – a forced marriage with other programme participants.  It was a request to find a receptive partner(s) and only then seek out the financing/grants programme.  The aims, as stated as specific.  Did this blog know of any suitable and approachable academic partners of repute?

The simple answer was “Yes – several in fact”.  Having lots of enlightened friends and acquaintances has its advantages, even if it means your author is frequently the dumbest person in the room.

Thus an official (embossed letterhead paper exchanges and all that) fledgling courtship began between a highly respected UK University and a well known university in Kyiv.  For now, these universities will remain anonymous, but almost daily emails are exchanged (in which this blog is included as a matter of courtesy presumably) relating to forthcoming workshops in the Autumn and Winter 2015, and Spring summer 2016.  One aim is to glue together a close academic relationship, open to other western and Ukrainian universities to join should they wish (and some are already expressing interest) at the post-grad, Doctorate, Professor level.

Something right up – or at least partly up – the British Council grant alley – except the British Council grant budget for 2015 has only just received its annual refill, and thus no applications for funding under the new budget have hit the British Council website yet.

The blog has now 25 Ukrainian professors from Kyiv and Odessa confirmed as wanting to attend the first London workshops in the autumn, and thus is not about to wait the British Council getting its act together on-line, without looking for appropriate funding elsewhere too.

This blog is fortunate to have some very enlightened and influential readers – some of whom have spent time with your author on more than one occasion, exchanging thoughts on Ukrainian politics, policy, society and all such high brow issues.  It is sometime worrisome to contemplate possibly numerous official notes containing the dull, but usually accurate, comments made in various files in Kyiv and beyond.

To those political, diplomatic and international NGO leaders acquainted with the author, or such readers with whom a meeting is yet to occur, should they have a few moments to rummage around their national grants/endowments/philanthropists looking to support the projection and cross-fertilisation of Ukrainian higher education at a post-Grad and above level – particularly by way of active workshops within the realms politics, policy, economics, history and law – and feel they could support, and indeed encourage participation therein, do drop the blog an email.

By way of disclosure, aside from the initial match-making, and continued inclusion in email correspondence, this blog has no connection with any university involved.  It’s next task will be to persuade some diplomats and practitioners to attend the London workshops too.

However, in a sea of grant money flowing toward Ukraine, much of which will be spend heaven only knows how, on programmes imported, rather than created by Ukrainian practitioners, this blog is seeking access to as many sources of funding as possible, to finance albeit, a very small sum.  To be abundantly clear – no funds are for the blog itself.  Therefore DO NOT click on the “Donate” button on the home page of Odessatalk to sponsor the aforementioned university project – as stated at the very start of this entry, not smudging the lines between a hobby and what really matters, is your author’s generally enforced rule.

Naturally any donor/sponsor of this university project, should they desire it, will get there necessary public gratitude here (and in London as protocol dictates).  If they would prefer to hide their light behind a bushel – then discretion is assured.

Before anybody asks, your author doesn’t know George Soros, so it is very unlikely the “inbox” is going to see an email from him asking for details of the nitty-gritty that requires funding – unfortunately.

Advertisements
h1

The EU & Russia: Before & Beyond the Crisis in Ukraine

February 21, 2015

Yesterday saw the release of the House of Lords European Union Committee report “The EU and Russia:  Before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine“.  It really is a very good read for those who know nothing about the region and how it has managed to find itself where it is.  For those who are still clueless and with the time to wade through 123 pages, it is thoroughly recommended to do so.

Perhaps the one issue that is not stressed prominently enough within the report, is that Ukraine and Russia are on entirely different trajectories – and have been ever since the dissolving of the USSR in 1991.  The difference are and always have been stark – despite the similarities regarding corruption, oligarchy and rule of law deficiencies.

In which Ukrainian election, other than the May 2014 election when it was clear only one presidential candidate would win from the outset, has an election been predictable?  In which Ukrainian election has an anointed successor by any incumbent actually won?  The only attempt to insure an anointed successor replaced the then incumbent resulted in the “Orange Revolution” in 2004/05 – when Ukrainians took to the streets and overturned that attempt.

Compare that to Russia where election results are predictable.  Anointed successors always win – and in some cases had back the reigns after a term in office to circumvent Constitutional niceties.  But there are no surprises.

In the RADA, the government (and any Ukrainian government historically) has suffered (sometimes unexpected) defeats regarding its submitted legislation.  The Duma, long stuffed with celebrities and sports stars to provide a little theatre, is not exactly known for knocking back anything President Putin submits – because that never happens.

Ukrainian civil society is vibrant – and over the past year has become disciplined, coordinated and gathered some momentum and power within the political space.  In Russia, it is suppressed, (unless it is government friendly), harassed and ignored, with no light at the end of the tunnel for those trying to influence government positively from their perspective.

The Ukrainian media even at its most repressed and censored, was far more free than that in Russia.  Today their respective journalistic freedoms are an enormous distance apart, even if neither is perfect.

Although it is possible to go on, the differences from 1991 to the present day have always been stark.  Ukraine is, and always has been, far more pluralistic in its democracy, far more open with its civil society and media space than Russia, and society far less accepting of dictated outcomes.

The Ukrainian trajectory, as slow and meandering as it has been, is nonetheless one of democracy and Europeanisation to a degree that has never existed in post USSR Russia.  Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have indeed headed in an entirely different direction.

This irreconcilable difference is not stressed prominently enough in the Lords report.  Short of a transactional relationship between Russia and Ukraine in the future, the political and social trajectories of these nations is fundamentally different – regardless of eventual membership of western clubs, or not.

However, it is not what is within the Lords report that is necessarily interesting for those who have a grasp of Ukraine, Russia and the region beyond what can be found in the MSM or western “experts/commentators”.  For those that have no clue, the Lords report is highly recommended reading before making any comments whatsoever.

What catches the eye, for those that notice such things, is that amongst the criticism raised against the FCO in particular, there is an absence of any mention of friction within the ranks – or rather embassies – when it comes to either Russia or Ukraine strategy.

For those that follow HM Embassy Kyiv and HM Embassy Moscow, the FCO, as well as the usual UK delegations to the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE, and prominent political figures etc. on their respective public social media accounts, there are some rather interesting patterns regarding “shares”, “retweets” and the like – or more significantly, the lack of them.

Things such as the tweet below, as one example of many, are not retweeted by HM Embassy Moscow, despite being generated by HM Embassy Kyiv.  Too accusatory perhaps for those who would get summonsed to explain time and again?  The Kremlin wouldn’t notice perhaps if UK Embassy Moscow didn’t “retweet” or “share”?

It is notable that some of the social media publications/e-diplomacy from HM Embassy Kyiv, whilst shared, retweeted etc., by many within the official “UK Plc organs”, HM Embassy Moscow is rather sparing in that department – particularly with subjects that would clearly upset the Kremlin beyond its normal, permanently irritable demeanor.

Having followed this trend for quite some time, some may suspect that HM Embassy Moscow has developed something of an annoyance with some of the HM Embassy Kyiv social media campaigns/content.

Now, having lived in Moscow, it is entirely understandable that HM Embassy Moscow will not take too kindly to HM Embassy Kyiv considerably annoying the Kremlin via social media campaigns/public e-diplomacy.  Naturally, not particularly “helpful” from their perspective.  FSB harassment undoubtedly increases for both UK diplomats and locally employed native staff as a result.  However, FSB harassment is to be expected when in Moscow at the best of times – and this is not the best of times.

Thus we are left to wonder whether a rather discombobulated regional social media approach was either mentioned to the Lords, but not mentioned in the report, whether it has even been picked up by FCO London, or whether it was deliberately not discussed during evidence provided to the Lords, being deemed not important enough, though it clearly has some importance.

Whatever the case, such inconsistencies in public e-diplomacy/social media campaigns by the two lead UK embassies in the region are noticeable for those who have an eye for such things – not that UK Embassy Kyiv should in any way stop any campaigns that are causing annoyance to the Kremlin, even if it comes at the expense of their colleagues in Moscow.

After all, business as usual with Moscow is not about to return any time soon with the UK now washing Kremlin dirty Litvinenko laundry in public anyway – regardless of actions in Ukraine.

h1

42 EU Civilian Advisory Mission Vacancies in Ukraine

December 16, 2014

At the beginning of December the ” EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine ” officially swung into action regarding its mandate in Ukraine outside the confines of a few offices in Kyiv.  Some existing members of the Mission were already here and have been working/preparing since 22 July – some of those people are known to this blog.

The mission has a current mandate that runs until summer 2016, and whilst Kyiv-centric as these things always are, there is a vital regional outreach section to the Mission – vital as reform is often stymied, rebuffed and ignored in the regional fiefdoms, regardless of the political intent of Kyiv.  Ever has it been thus in Ukraine, regardless of sitting government/president.

That “outreach division”, from what I understand, will be severely short staffed, even when fully staffed – not even one representative per Oblast, a clear indication that the EU has yet to comprehend the internal bureaucratic and regional power-plays that will deliberately obstruct and slow the efforts of the centre.

The EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine is tasked with assisting in police, judicial, and prison (etc) reform.  No small task considering the varying levels of obstruction such reforms will face in various regions or via various individuals – though it has to be said “advisory” means exactly that, no more and no less.  Ukraine must make Ukrainian reform work – nobody else can do it.

Anyway, having already been officially launched – and indeed this blog having already met an old friend who is participating in this Mission earlier this week on an all too swift visit to Odessa – to the point of this entry:  42 vacancies within the EU Advisory Mission for Civilian Security Sector Reform in Ukraine.

How swiftly those 42 vacancies will be filled, who knows – but clearly the fact that there are so many vacancies will have an organisational and Mission impact upon its capabilities in the immediate now that it is entirely “live”.

Regular readers with the ability to read between the lines of historical posts, as well as those who know this blog personally, are no doubt asking why its services are not being volunteered for this EU Mission.

Indeed, no matter which way you shake the resume, it fits the vast majority of the vacancies, not withstanding a decade of living in Ukraine and knowing personally the majority of those in positions of power/influence from Odessa who are likely to either obstruct or accept the reforms that will be forthcoming.  Why waste almost two decades of sitting in Judges Chambers, Crown Courts, Magistrates Courts (mostly of the Northern Circuit), police stations and prisons, or the tedious hours of writing local area policing plans, emergency response plans, creating, monitoring and implementing policy documents to meet health and safety, environmental and public safety protocols etc., when Ukraine – and Odessa where I will continue to live long after this EU Mission loses its mandate – may benefit from those years?

There is surely a personal vested interest to see the rule of law, the establishing and consolidation of democratic institutions, and top-down, bottom-up and horizontal accountability installed in Ukraine.

Such matters are not always so simple.

In already knowing such people in Odessa (and a few in other Oblasts too), and having lived here so long, perhaps knowing too much, and too many relevant people, some may argue that the necessary “detachment” or “insulation” for unquestioned integrity and unbiasedness is missing.

Is a fairly deep insight into Ukrainian issues and knowing influential people already, when undoubtedly continuing to reside in Ukraine post any EU Mission conclusion, likely to create problematic personal issues in the future?  Has individual integrity already been compromised even before any application to the Mission?

Would any favourable or jaundiced bias matter that much, when what truly matters is the accuracy of reporting above all else?

Why show any interest in this particular EU Mission when there has been a deliberate and conscious effort made not to participate in any official election observing in Ukraine due to the high probability of knowing not only runners and riders in any elections, but also the election commission personnel as well?  Meeting, greeting and passing on local/national knowledge with as much accuracy as possible to numerous international election observers that arrive in Ukraine is one thing – acting as an official observer knowing these people, the potential difficulties that may present personally in the future, is quite another.

That said, this is not a 3 month LTO or one week STO gig.  It is at least 18 months – a sufficient timespan to get to know all those already known, if they weren’t already known, anyway.

Is there a beneficial legacy issue beyond the EU Mission mandate for the UK Embassy Kyiv (and others) that are constantly in contact with the blog due to no permanent diplomatic presence in Odessa, if existing (and potentially new) social contacts were temporarily made more formal for 18 months.  Once the mandate concludes, the blog presence and its contacts needless to say, remain.  Whilst such networks would be of little benefit to the blog, for certain nations, the existence of any such network may be of use in the future.

Returning to the mechanics of the Mission, there will also need to be a diverse composition of the successful applicants across the Member States that are taking part – and perhaps not all will be taking part.  It is not clear – and such things invariably are not.  Whilst the vacancies are open to all EU citizens, some nations may have quietly made clear that they are not especially keen to have their nationals involved in this particular Mission, but would prefer to carry more weight in another mission, either within Ukraine or elsewhere – who knows?  There are always issues behind the curtain to consider.

Anyway, for those interested, the application form is here.  Deadline for applications 9th January 2015.

In the meantime, something to ponder for yours truly.  Perhaps a few emails are in order to ascertain how well received any such application would be – or indeed if it would pushed forward/actively supported by certain quarters if it were submitted to circumvent the secondment issue for many posts – where there is political will, there is a bureaucratic way.

h1

Removal of MP Immunity – Reinventing of the wheel (again)

November 14, 2014

As is now clear, Ukrainian MPs will vote to remove their own absolute immunity – and thus hopefully their acts with absolute impunity will lessen – when the new RADA takes its seats.

As Mykola Tomenko stated yesterday, there is agreement that immunity over issues such as corruption will be abolished – yet problems still remain to be resolved.  An example he cited was a politician’s ability to hold a rally outside the parliament and to subsequently be arrested for doing so.

The issue then, one of the gap between non-liability and inviolability.

Parliamentary immunity derives its legitimacy from the fundamental right of individuals to govern themselves, with its main objective being to secure independence and freedom of expression.  This form of immunity guarantees the principle of the separation of powers.  Thus immunity makes it possible for parliamentarians to express minority opinions without being penalised for it, and this in turn contributes to a pluralist democracy.

As the European Court of Human Rights as ruled – “… tolerance and respect for the equal dignity of all human beings constitute the foundations of a democratic, pluralistic society. That being so, as a matter of principle it may be considered necessary in certain democratic societies to sanction or even prevent all forms of expression which spread, incite, promote or justify hatred based on intolerance…….the Court is also careful to make a distinction in its findings between, on the one hand, genuine and serious incitement to extremism and, on the other hand, the right of individuals (including journalists and politicians) to express their views freely and to “offend, shock or disturb” others.” –  (Chamber judgment Erbakan v. Turkey, no. 59405/00, § 56, 6.07.2006)

Parliamentary immunity therefore puts a large burden on the personal integrity of those who enjoy it.  It creates a space between non-liability and any inviolability – or matters occurring within the exercise of an MPs duties, and something far more broad and absolute.  Ukrainian MPs have historically sat with absolute inviolability – acting with outrageous impunity because of it.

Personal integrity associated with non-liability, historically, is not a phrase that most would use in the same sentence as Ukrainian MP – unless in a derogatory/cynical/satirical/rhetorical sense.  Complete contempt for the rule of law associated with absolute inviolability is associated with Ukrainian MPs.

However, it remains incomprehensible that the Ukrainian political class seems intent upon reinventing the parameters of the non-liability verses inviolability wheel, and where in that gap they indend to pitch their tent.  It is an issue that a great many others have already dealt with in numerous nuanced ways within the theme:

There is the UK’s parliamentary privilege – non-liability, tried and tested over a great many years:

“Parliamentary privilege grants certain legal immunities for Members of both Houses which allow them to perform their duties without interference from outside the House. The privileges are: Freedom of speech, freedom from arrest (on civil matters), freedom of access to the sovereign and that ‘the most favourable construction should be placed on all the Houses’s proceedings’. Members are immune from legal action in terms of slander but must adhere to the principles of parliamentary language.”

With regard to inviolability in the UK, it consists of immunity from arrest and detention for all civil actions – which is almost entirely pointless and has almost no practical effect, because there are so very, very few civil cases for which a person can be detained.

There is also The European Parliament:

“Members of Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings, in connection with civil, criminal or administrative proceedings, in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast during debates in Parliament, in bodies created by or functioning within the latter or on which they sit as Members of Parliament.”

However, it would be quite wrong to present the Ukrainian political class with only two examples, as they would be tempted to strive for a third option – so, a brief and less than scholarly overview of non-liability and  inviolability for some of the EU nations follows:

Austria – Non-liability:  MPs are not accountable for votes and written or oral opinions in the exercise of their parliamentary mandate. This immunity covers all votes cast and oral and written statements made by Members of the National Council during the proceedings of the plenary and the committee meetings, during parliamentary inquiries and in written statements recorded in parliamentary documents.

Inviolability:  Immunity covers acts punishable by a court of law, acts governed by administrative criminal law and acts amenable to prosecution under disciplinary law provided that they have been committed in connection with the political activities of the Member concerned. It does not afford any protection against civil proceedings in a court of law.  Derogations: in cases of flagrante delicto, MPs can be arrested. Legal action can be taken if the case is manifestly not connected with the political activity of the MP.

 

Belgium – Non-liability: A member is exempt from criminal, disciplinary and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination (i.e preliminary investigation, searches) for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties.

Inviolability:  A member may not be committed for trial or summoned directly before a court or tribunal, or arrested without prior authorisation of the House, except in flagrante delicto.  Other investigative acts (e.g. questioning, searches and seizures, etc.) do not require prior authorisation.  There are, however, additional procedural guarantees (e.g. presence of (a representative of ) the Speaker of an assembly when a search takes place).

 

Bulgaria – Non-liability: Parliamentary non-accountability applies to words spoken and written by MPs both within and outside Parliament while performing their duties as Members of Parliament.  MPs are therefore exempt from any criminal liability.  Derogations: Offence or insult.

Inviolability:  It applies only to criminal proceedings, covers all offences and protects MPs from arrest and from being held in preventive custody, from the opening of judicial proceedings against them and from their homes being searched.  The permission of the National Assembly is needed in order to subject the Member to detention or rather criminal prosecution.  Derogations: In cases of grave crimes committed in flagrante delicto or if the MP gives their consent, MPs can be arrested.  However, Parliament or, between sessions, its President, shall be notified.

 

Cyprus -Non-liability:  Representatives shall not be liable to civil or criminal proceedings in respect of any statement made or vote by them in the House of Representatives. Therefore the non-liability is limited to votes and statements performed in the House itself.

Inviolability :  Immunity, applied to both criminal and civil proceedings, protects Members from arrest, from being held in preventive custody (imprisonment), from the opening of judicial proceedings against them and from their homes being searched, without leave from the Supreme Court.  In cases where the Member is apprehended in the act of committing an offence punishable with imprisonment of five years or more, the MP can be arrested without leave by the Supreme Court.

 

Czech Republic – Non-liability:  No Deputy or Senator may be disciplined for his or her voting in the Chamber of Deputies or in the Senate, or in their bodies.  No Deputy or Senator may be criminally prosecuted for statements made in the Chamber of Deputies or in the Senate, or in their bodies and, in this case, a Deputy or Senator shall be subject only to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the chamber of which he or she is a member.  In other cases, no Deputy or Senator may be criminally prosecuted without the consent of the chamber of which he or she is a member.  If the respective chamber denies its consent, criminal prosecution shall be excluded forever.   A Deputy or a Senator who has committed a transgression shall be subject only to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the chamber of which he or she is a member, if he or she requests so.

Inviolability:  Member enjoys protection from criminal proceedings, except where they are apprehended in the act of committing a criminal offence (flagrante delicto) or immediately thereafter.  In this case, the competent agency shall immediately report the detention to the chairman of the Chamber of which the detainee is a Member.  If the chairman does not give his consent within 24 hours of the detention to the surrender of the detainee to a court, the competent agency shall release the detainee.

 

Denmark -Non-liability:  A member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, made not only on the floor of the Folketing but also elsewhere – for instance in standing committees of the Folketing or while away on business with such committees.  The deciding factor is whether the opinions expressed are directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties.

Inviolability:  The member enjoys protection from prosecution or imprisonment of any kind without the consent of the Parliament, except where the member is apprehended in flagrante delicto.  This immunity covers only public criminal prosecution and applies neither to investigation, interrogation and fines, nor to civil or criminal cases resulting from private prosecutions.

 

Estonia – Non-liability:  A member will not bear legal liability for votes cast or political statements made by them in the Riigikogu or in any of its bodies.

Inviolability:   A member may be detained as a suspect, preventive measures may be applied and searches, seizure of property, inspections and physical examinations may be conducted, only if the Riigikogu has granted consent to the preparation of a statement of charges with regard to such person.  A member may be detained as a suspect without the consent of the Riigikogu if the person was apprehended in the act of commission of a criminal offence in the first degree.  In such cases, the person and any premises associated with them may be searched and the person subjected to inspections and physical examinations without the consent of the Riigikogu, as appropriate.  Criminal charges can be brought against a member if the majority of the membership of the Parliament consents.

 

Finland – Non-liability:  The member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, arrest, detention and investigation/examination, for opinions expressed, behaviour/conduct, and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, made on the floor of the House.

Inviolability:   The member is provided with protection from arrest or detention before the commencement of a trial, except where the member is, for substantial reasons, suspected of having committed a crime for which the minimum punishment is imprisonment for at least six months.

 

France – Non-liability:  A member is not liable for opinions expressed and votes cast in the performance of their parliamentary duties: they will not be subjected to prosecution, search, arrest, detention or trial. At the same time, jurisprudence has established that some actions which cannot be equated with opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of their parliamentary office do not fall under the heading of non-liability (e.g. remarks during a radio conference or in an interview).

Inviolability:   A member is inviolable in criminal and administrative proceedings and will therefore not be arrested or subjected to restrictions on their freedom of movement (preliminary investigations and searches excepted) without prior authorisation by the Bureau of the National Assembly.  Such authorisation is not required in case of certain routine law enforcement inquiries and serious crimes or other major offences committed in flagrante delicto.

 

Germany – Non-liability:  At no time may a member incur legal or disciplinary proceedings for votes cast and/or opinions expressed on the floor of the House or in one of its bodies, nor held accountable outside the House.  This does not apply to defamatory insults, which can, however, be dealt with through parliamentary disciplining.

Inviolability:   Only upon prior authorisation of the Bundestag may a member be held accountable or detained for acts punishable by a court of law, except in flagrante delicto, or when apprehended in the course of the next day.  Prior authorisation of the Bundestag is also required for any other restrictions of a member’s personal freedom or for the initiation of legal proceedings against a member.

 

Greece – Non-liability:  The member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination. Non-liability of MPs is operative concerning criminal and civil proceedings and disciplinary measures for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties inside as well as outside the Chamber (as far as there is a direct link of the expression of opinion or vote to the exercise of the mandate).  Derogations: Defamation.

Inviolability:   The member enjoys protection from criminal and administrative proceedings (though not against preliminary investigation or searches) and arrest, except where the member is apprehended in flagrante delicto (in this case no authorisation by the Parliament is required).

 

Hungary – Non-liability:  A member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal prosecution for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties.  Active or former members cannot be held accountable before court, or by any other authority for their votes cast, or facts and opinions stated in the course of the duration of their mandate.  This immunity shall not be applicable in case of violation of state secrets, of defamation or libel, and in connection with the accountability of MPs under civil law.

Inviolability:   A member enjoys protection from criminal and civil proceedings (including preliminary investigation or searches) and arrest, except where the member is apprehended in flagrante delicto.  MPs can only be arrested in case of flagrante delicto.  Criminal procedures or legal procedures for petty offences against MPs can only be started and pursued with prior permission given by Parliament.  Prior permission by Parliament is also required for law enforcement against MPs in criminal procedures.

 

Ireland – Non-liability:  The member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination. Immunity protects members of parliament against any legal action likely to reduce their freedom of speech and action.  It covers opinions expressed and votes cast/utterances directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, made on the floor of one of the two Houses and while going to and returning from parliament.  Derogations: Treason, felony and breach of peace. Immunity covers all official reports and publications of the Houses.  Immunity extends to statements made outside the Houses of the Oireachtas where these are identical to statements made within the Houses. Officials, experts and certain witnesses are also covered within parliamentary committees.

Inviolability:   Any measures that might restrict the personal freedom of members when they go to the parliament, are sitting or are returning from there are prohibited.

 

Italy – Non-liability:  A member is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties.  MPs may not be required to give account of any opinions expressed or votes cast in the exercise of their functions.  Deputies and Senators are therefore exempt from any civil, criminal, administrative or disciplinary liability which could stem from an opinion expressed or votes cast when carrying out their parliamentary activities.

Inviolability:   A member enjoys protection from arrest, detention, searches, investigations, surveillance and interception of communications, except in cases of flagrante delicto, when an arrest warrant is compulsory.  No previous authorisation of the competent Chamber is necessary in order to subject a Member of the Parliament to criminal proceedings.

 

Latvia – Non-liability:  The member is not liable to disciplinary measures and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties.  They also have the right to refuse to give evidence in specific cases.  Members may not be called to account by any judicial, administrative or disciplinary process in connection with their voting or their views as expressed during the execution of their duties. But court proceedings can be brought against a member if they, albeit in the course of performing parliamentary duties, disseminate defamatory statements which they know to be false, or defamatory statements about private or family life.  They also have the right to refuse to give evidence in specific cases regarding other non-liable Members (Example: Concerning persons who have entrusted to them, as representatives of the people, certain facts or information).

Inviolability:   Immunity applies only to criminal and administrative proceedings, covers all offences and protects MPs from arrest and from being held in preventive custody, from the opening of judicial proceedings against them, from their homes being searched, and from administrative fines being levied. Members may not be arrested or their premises searched or their personal liberty be restricted in any way without the consent of the Saeima.  They may be arrested if apprehended in flagrante delicto.

 

Lithuania – Non-liability:  No civil or criminal action may be brought against an MP for the opinions expressed and votes cast in the exercise of his parliamentary duties.  The member is only liable for personal insult or slander and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, made on the floor of the Seimas.

Inviolability:   Criminal proceedings may not be instituted against a Seimas Member; they may not be arrested and may not be subjected to any other restrictions of personal freedom without the consent of the Seimas, except in cases when caught in flagrante delicto.

 

Luxembourg – Non-liability:   Parliamentary non-accountability applies to words spoken and written by MPs both within and outside Parliament provided MPs said or wrote them in the exercise of their functions. Derogations:  Insult of Parliament or its President.

Inviolability:   Immunity applies to criminal and civil proceedings, covers all offences and protects MPs from arrest and from being held in preventive custody and from the opening of judicial proceedings against them without authorisation of the Chamber.  As for their homes being searched, there is no jurisprudence in Luxembourg.  Derogations: In cases involving flagrante delicto, inviolability does not apply.

 

Malta – Non-liability:  No civil or criminal proceedings may be instituted against any Member of the House or a committee thereof or by reason of any matter or thing brought by them therein by petition, bill, resolution, motion or otherwise.  This non-liability does not seem to concern activities of the member performed outside the House.

Inviolability:   For the duration of any session Members of the House of Representatives enjoy the immunity from arrest for any civil debt “provided that it is not fraudulent or otherwise in contravention of the Criminal Code.”

 

The Netherlands – Non-liability:  A member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, made on the floor of the House.  The non-liability principle covers all procedures (civil, criminal, administrative and disciplinary) but is strictly limited to positions (oral and writing) taken in deliberations (during parliamentary sessions).

Inviolability:   MPs have the same status as ordinary citizens and enjoy no immunity whatsoever.

 

Poland – Non-liability:  The member is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, disciplinary accountability and investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, e.g. made on the floor of the parliament or its bodies.  In case of infringement of the rights of third parties (e.g. offence/defamation and slander), a member may only be proceeded against before a court upon consent of the Sejm.  The following activities fall within the scope of the non-liability principle: Tabling proposals, speeches and votes during sessions of parliament and other parliamentary meetings as well as other acts related to the performance of parliamentary duties.

Inviolability:   Criminal proceedings (“criminal accountability” being interpreted broadly, also covering petty crimes) instituted against a person before the day of their election as Deputy shall be suspended at the request of the Sejm until the time of expiry of the mandate.  A deputy shall not be subjected to criminal accountability without consent of the Sejm.  They shall neither be detained nor arrested without the consent of the Sejm, except when apprehended in flagrante delicto, and when detention is required for securing the proper course of the proceedings.  Any such detention shall be communicated immediately to the Marshal of the Sejm, who may order an immediate release of the deputy.

 

Portugal – Non-liability:  A member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, and investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, made on the floor of the House.

Inviolability:   A member enjoys protection from criminal and administrative proceedings (though not against preliminary investigation or searches) and arrest, except where the member is apprehended in flagrante delicto, or if the alleged offence is punishable by more than three years imprisonment.

 

Romania – Non-liability:  A member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution, as well as investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, made on the floor of the House.

Inviolability:   The Deputies and Senators may be subject to criminal investigation, or criminally prosecuted for acts that are not connected with their votes or their political opinions expressed in the exercise of their office, but shall not be searched, detained or arrested without the consent of the Chamber they belong to, after being heard, and may be apprehended in flagrante delicto.  The investigation or prosecution shall only be carried out by the Public Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cessation and Justice.

 

Slovakia – Non-liability:  No Member of Parliament shall be prosecuted for his voting in the National Council of the Slovak Republic or in its committees, not even after expiration of his or her mandate.  No Member of Parliament shall be prosecuted for statements presented in duration of the post in the National NC SR or in its body, not even after expiration of his or her mandate. The MP is subject to disciplinary powers of the NC SR.  The member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker-Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal liability because of his voting and statements in the National Council of the Slovak Republic or its bodies.  Furthermore, he/she cannot be subject to investigation/examination, for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties without the consent of the NC SR, made on the floor of the NC SR or its bodies.

Inviolability:   No Member of Parliament shall be held in pre-trial detention without approval of the National Council of the Slovak Republic.

 

Slovenia – Non-liability:  A member is not criminally liable for opinions expressed or votes cast at sessions of the National Assembly/National Council or its working bodies.

Inviolability:   No deputy may be detained nor, where such deputy claims immunity, may criminal proceedings be initiated against them without the permission of the National Assembly, except where such deputy has been apprehended in flagrante delicto, committing a criminal offence for which carries a prison sentence of over five years.  The National Assembly may still grant immunity in the aftermath.

 

Spain – Non-liability:  The member may not be required to give account of any opinions expressed or votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties, in the exercise of their functions. Deputies and Senators are therefore exempt from any civil, criminal, administrative or disciplinary liability which could stem from an opinion expressed or votes cast when carrying out their parliamentary activities.

Inviolability:   The member enjoys protection from criminal and administrative proceedings and arrest, except where the Member is apprehended in flagrante delicto.  The authorisation of the Chamber to which the Member belongs is needed in order to subject the Member to judicial measures.

 

Sweden – Non-liability:  A member is only liable to disciplinary measures by the Speaker/Chamber (i.e. call to order, censure) and is exempt from criminal and civil prosecution for opinions expressed and votes cast directly related to the performance of parliamentary duties.

Inviolability:  The member is provided with protection from criminal and administrative proceedings and arrest, except where the Member is apprehended in flagrante delicto, if the minimum penalty for the alleged offence is imprisonment for at least two years, or if the Member pleads guilty.

 

So that is a general summary of some of the EU Member States positions on non-liability and inviolability when it comes to their political class.  It is possible to go on and on when considering non-EU nations of course – Norway, Canada, Australia etc., but with so many existing EU examples to use as a legislative guide relating to “European integration” and Ukrainian compatibility thereto, there is surely enough choice to simply copy a model that a consensus can agree upon amongst the coalition partners.

They all certainly address the non-liability example given my Mr Tomenko that is seemingly so perplexing for the Ukrainian political elite.

The goal for Mr Tomenko and colleagues should be crystal clear – 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.

Naturally it will be too much to expect the Dutch or UK model to be copied – but even so, when there are so many functioning precedents to choose from, really, this cannot be that difficult!

h1

One for the “thinkers” out there – Ukraine

August 13, 2014

A very short entry today, despite the ever-increasing tensions on – and heading toward – Ukraine’s eastern border.

A request from HMG for proposals relating to a “Conflict Pool” of project proposals relating to Ukraine, a clear recognition that nobody has the monopoly on good ideas – including Whitehall.

The remit:

Programmes are expected to be short-term, with solid and sustainable outcomes.

Clear and targeted communications are an essential part of peace and stability. Recent months of insecurity in Ukraine have highlighted challenges in resources and capabilities to communicate and foster dialogue and understanding between different groups of citizens and between citizens and the State.

The Conflict Pool is open to applications from Ukraine-based and international organisations that are aligned with the UK Government’s Building Stability Overseas Strategy and relate to the following objectives:

* strengthen the Government of Ukraine’s capacity to communicate effectively with its own citizens. Particularly security, economic and political reforms (including European integration) where reforms may generate tensions if not well-explained
* reduce tensions and improve understanding between different groups of Ukrainian citizens
* improve dialogue and communication between citizens and the state in both directions
* ensure media reporting (around flashpoint and contentious issues) is neutral and conflict sensitive

Criteria for implementing organisations

We invite applications from organisations with:

* a demonstrated reputation for high quality work in the types of activities identified above
* a track record of effective delivery in Ukraine (and/or other countries of the former Soviet Union)
 * ability to work in Ukrainian and Russian languages
* willingness and ability to work across the whole of Ukraine
* ability to begin implementation within 1 week of bid being successful
* ability to deliver results by 31 March 2015
* hard evidence to back up the need for (and success of) the project

We have a total budget of approximately £1,200,000. There is no lower or upper limit for proposals. However, we intend to fund one to two large strategic projects, with a number of smaller self contained bids.

Funding will be for the period between September 2014 to 31 March 2015.

Some have already had their heads periodically sucked dry of ideas by FCO personnel in Ukraine at the cost to the UK tax-payer of several very modest lunches.  For others, this is an opportunity to assist in dealing with some problematic issues at the expense of some thinking.

Any and all assistance appreciated!

 

h1

Stepping out from behind international skirts – Unilateral assistance

July 14, 2014

Yesterday evening, Artis Pabriks MEP, former Latvian Foreign Minister and Defence Minister tweeted:

A very direct and unambiguous statement.

His claim that western dallying has cost lives, injuries and preventable hardships has some merit – at least and insofar as the stakes for The Kremlin have remained incredibly low when considering the illegal annexation of Crimea in defiance of international laws, treaties, protocols and memorandi  The Kremlin itself is a ratified signatory of. That is notwithstanding its actions – and/or inactions with regard to securing/controlling Russia’s own border – in eastern Ukraine and the flow of fighters, tanks, GRADs, artillery and cash etc, through its borders into Ukraine.

It is of course, Ukraine that must reassert control of its own borders with Russia on the ground.  Western troops are not about to do that for it.  Blood that will be spilled in doing so will be Ukrainian blood – and necessarily so in the current and contained theatre of a small part of eastern Ukraine.

One of the few benefits of producing this blog in English is that it facilitates never ending invitations to meet with international journalists (normally refused),  academics, politicians and the diplomatic community (normally accepted) to discus the issues of the day, or possible solutions to the problems of today/tomorrow/on the horizon.

The personal views of such people are never directly repeated or attributed from such meetings, but it is fair to say that they are not always the same as the “official view” of the establishments they represent.  Events, such as the on-going Odessa International Film Festival, tend to facilitate many such meetings “on the fringes” when such busy people are in town.

Suffice to say the point raised by Artis Pabriks MEP regarding a more robust response to encourage Russian control of its borders is not a point missed by most of the “western” resident diplomatic community in Ukraine either.  That their opinion is heard within their respective capitals, there is no doubt.  That is part of their role.

That their opinion is heeded and takes primacy in their relevant capitals is an entirely different matter.

So what to do, if once again, the Europeans in particular, fail to activate sector sanctions at the European Council meeting of 16th July?

It is then time, perhaps, for individual nations to stop hiding conveniently behind the EU skirts.  Whilst sanctions may be far more effective applied in concert and identified as sanctions – there are “sanctions” and there are sanctions.

Clearly something the UK is thinking about.  The recent refusal of all but 5 Visa applications for the Russian team that was to attend the international Farnborough Airshow being a superb example of “sanctions” that are not officially sanctions.

“Due to Russian actions in Ukraine, no representatives from the Russian government have been issued HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) invitations to FIA (Farnborough International Airshow) 2014,”

Whilst some may boo-hoo the fact 5 Visas were granted, they were granted to admin staff to the Russian presentation/delegation team.  All technical, government and contract negotiation staff were refused.  Therefore the admin staff had little to administer if they attended.

“The Russian embassy in Great Britain regrets the disruption of the visit of the main part of the Russian delegation for the Farnborough-2014 international aerospace exhibition hosted by the UK, important military-technical cooperation negotiations scheduled for Monday between Rosoboronexport and foreign partners have been virtually disrupted.”

The Farnborough Air Show normally generates about $70 billion in sales.

The same Visa issues were encountered by Russian business at the Info Security Europe 2014 exhibition in May.  Serious expenditure and losses incurred to Russia without any formal sector sanctions – despite defence and technology (together with finance) being the three proposed sector sanctions amongst the European nations (naturally not energy/gas).

Bravo the UK.  Ahead of the curve and acting unilaterally to impose costs without official sanctions.

Let’s see if any other nation will unilaterally follow suit should the EU Member States continue to shy away from their purported values.

But let’s take that thought process a little further with regard to unilateral support for Ukraine.

What do the NATO member countries do with their “retired” and yet fully functional military hardware?  Aircraft, helicopters, tanks etc?  Those that were and remain reasonably fit for purpose despite being replaced by updated models?  They have dropped off of the national balance sheets after all once “retired”.

Why scrap them or mothball them when the relevant national balance sheets no longer assign a value to them?  Why not give them to Ukraine for free – as Ukraine can afford free – with only maintenance bills to foot going forward?

It is not as though Ukraine is an expansionist power.  It’s armed encounters outside of its territory come in the form of mobilising to UN peacekeeping appeals.  As such any retired arms given would be for defensive purposes only.  There is no desire to create “NovoUkraine” in Moscow.

Yes Ukraine may end up with a pick ‘n’ mix military with regard to equipment for now, but such equipment may well be better than what Ukraine currently has – and the “now” is what matters.

Perhaps a little too far fetched.  Perhaps going beyond the always comfortable “non-lethal equipment” assistance is going too far.  Perhaps a little too lateral in thinking?  Perhaps though, food for thought when it comes to temporary and cheap assistance in defending territorial integrity in the immediate future?

If the supranational institutions are for whatever reason unable to act – it is time for unilateral action (cleverly per the UK example if necessary), or coalitions of the willing, to do what they can in defence not only of Ukraine, but of the international and regional order that has prevented the continent from turning in on itself since 1946.

 

h1

Soft Power

April 12, 2014

This is by far the most interesting and fascinating thing I have read all week.

In fact it is probably the most interesting and fascinating document I have ever read when it comes to the subject of “soft power.”

It is a very long read – so I will keep this entry short.

Suffice to say that whilst it has nothing to do with Ukraine specifically – right now it could not be more appropriate reading through a Ukrainian lens.

Good and thought provoking stuff, so click on the link!

%d bloggers like this: