Sanctions against propaganda TV channels, competitions for civil service positions, and penalties for domestic violence

Although the Parliament is also active, the newsmaker of the week was not the Verkhovna Rada but the President. He enacted the decision by the National Security and Defense Council and imposed sanctions against the MP of Opposition platform — For Life Taras Kozak and his propaganda TV channels. The Parliament also made several important decisions: started the restoration of competitions for civil service positions and addressed the issue of domestic violence.

Sanctions against NewsOne, ZIK, and 112 Ukraine (43/2021)

Decision-maker: the President.

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, MP of Opposition Platform — For Life faction Taras Kozak, TV channels NewsOne, ZIK, and 112 Ukraine.

What does the decree change:

  • enacts the decision by the National Security and Defense Council on imposing sanctions against Taras Kozak and TV channels he owns
  • freezes assets of Taras Kozak and his TV channels
  • prohibits pulling his capitals outside the country and introduces other restrictive measures.

The sanctions make it impossible for the three TV channels to continue broadcasting.

What is right: the channels were tools of Russian propaganda, did not ensure the freedom of speech and media pluralism, and, taking into account the ongoing war with Russia, presented a considerable threat to informational security.

What is wrong: sanctions are special restrictive measures, one of the ways the country can exercise its right for self-defense against external threats. Thus, they are the means of the state to put pressure on:

  • foreign countries
  • individuals or legal entities of foreign countries
  • international terrorist organizations like ISIS or al-Qaeda (with permanent organizational structure but without a status of international legal entities).

According to the Constitution, sanctions cannot be imposed on Ukrainian citizens or legal entities since they are an extrajudicial penalty. Therefore, it is highly probable that sanctions against Kozak will be lifted by the court.

Alternative solution:

  • broadcasting licenses for TV channels are the jurisdiction of the National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting. It has the authority to revoke the licenses of propaganda TV channels and its decisions on the matter, unlike the President’s decree, are unambiguously legal
  • personal sanctions against Taras Kozak do not prevent him from exercising his authority as an MP. The announcement by the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council that Kozak is connected to the hostile activity of the foreign country is not sufficient proof. The Prosecutor General has to sign a criminal complaint.

What else:

  • mechanism of sanctions has to be defined more precisely in order to prevent the authorities from abusing it
  • for the state to efficiently and legally counter Russian propaganda, complex changes to laws about information have to be introduced.

What’s next: Taras Kozak can challenge the sanctions in the court.

Restoration of competitions for civil service positions (4531)

Status: adopted in the first reading.

Who is affected: government bodies, civil servants, and candidates for positions within civil service.

What does the bill change:

  • the head of civil service will no longer be able to dismiss civil servants by his or her individual unmotivated decision
  • all civil servants will be appointed only via competitions
  • after the law is enacted, competitions for positions filled in via “lockdown” competitions will have to be conducted within four months for positions of category A and within nine months for categories B and C.

What is right:

  • the bill restores proper competitions for civil service positions
  • civil servants will be protected from arbitrary dismissal by their superiors and such protection is essential for effective work of the service.

What’s next: the bill will be revised by the Committee and sent back for the second reading.

More strict penalties for domestic violence (3908-1)

Status: passed in the first reading.

Who is affected: the National Police, offenders, and victims of domestic violence.

What does the bill change:

  • the bill introduces a new penalty for domestic violence: from 120 to 240 hours of community service
  • the time limit for administrative detention is increased from 7 to 10 days
  • for a repeated offense within a year, more severe punishment of community service from 240 to 360 hours can be imposed
  • wages for community service will be sent to the victim of domestic violence
  • the National Police gets the authority to arrest the offender and put him or her under administrative detention.

What is right:

  • unlike the original version of the bill described in our previous digest, the bill passed in the first reading makes penalties for domestic violence more severe and at the same time does not increases risks that victims will keep silent
  • the National Police will be able to detain the offender and stop acts of domestic violence.

What’s next: the bill will be revised by the Committee and sent back for the second reading.

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