Digests

Penalty for false information in asset declarations, constitutional procedure, and regulations on starostas: results of special parliamentary session

Last week MPs voted on 14 draft bills. Only two of the bills were submitted by the Cabinet.

In addition to regular plenary sessions, the Verkhovna Rada held a special session. Today we analyze the most important bills adopted by the Parliament: regulations on the work of the Constitutional Court, more severe punishments for corruption, and an update on regulations on starostas.


More severe penalties for failure to submit asset declarations and false information in asset declarations (4651)

Status: adopted in the first reading. MPs can submit proposals and amendments to the draft bill.

Who is affected: persons performing functions of the state or local governments and the National Agency on Corruption Prevention.

Draft bill in a nutshell:

  • introduces more severe penalties for false information in asset declarations:
  • if the difference between declared and real assets is from 1 mln 135 thousand to 4 mln 540 thousand UAH, the suspect faces a fine from 51 to 68 thousand UAH or 2-year imprisonment
  • over 4 mln 540 thousand UAH — a fine from 68 to 85 thousand UAH or 2-year imprisonment
  • for a deliberate failure to submit an asset declaration person can be imprisoned for 2 years
  • misinformation in asset declaration and failure to submit a declaration will be recognized as corruption offences.

Why this is important: officials that have provided false information in their declarations or deliberately failed to submit their declarations will be held liable for criminal offence even if they sincerely confess and cooperate with the investigation.

What is wrong: suspects will have no reason to cooperate with the investigation if their confession and cooperation are of no help in avoiding criminal punishment.


Regulations on the work of the Constitutional Court (4533)

Status: adopted in the first reading. MPs can submit proposals and amendments to the draft bill.

Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, government bodies, local governments, the President, the Verkhovna Rada, the Cabinet, the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and judges of the Constitutional Court.

Draft bill in a nutshell: introduces regulations on the work of the Constitutional Court:

  • to make decisions, the quorum of at least ten judges of the Constitutional Court is needed, to hold a session — twelve
  • the Court cannot address issues outside of subject matter of the constitutional proceeding, i.e. cannot evaluate acts or provisions that are not specifically challenged
  • not only the Head of the Constitutional Court but other judges too have the right to decide on the agenda of the Court
  • the Court holds its sessions primarily in the form of oral proceedings that are recorded and broadcasted. MPs, representatives of the President and the Cabinet are allowed to attend its sessions.

Background:

  • in October 2020, the Constitutional Court abolished electronic asset declarations on the grounds that they infringe judges’ rights
  • while considering the case, judges of the Constitutional Court addressed issues outside of subject matter and ruled unconstitutional several legislative provisions that were not specifically challenged.

What is right:

  • the work of the Constitutional Court should be regulated. The bill provides a clear list of reasons for the Court to start and close its proceedings, requirements on decisions and conclusions. The work of the Court will become more effective and transparent
  • open access to documents passed by the CCU and oral proceedings as a primary form of the CCU’s work will increase the level of trust in the Court.

What is wrong: the bill addresses issues that should be regulated by the Constitution only. For example, regulations on quorum for making a decision or hold a session. If the matter is regulated by a regular law, MPs can at any moment increase the quorum and stall the work of the Court.


“Improvement” of the institute of starostas (4535)

Status: adopted by the Parliament, awaits to be signed by the President.

Who is affected: local governments, Ukrainian citizens, and starostas.

Draft bill in a nutshell:

  • all candidates for starostas have to go through a public discussion
  • if local council does not support a candidate for starosta after the public discussion, this candidate cannot run for this position in this district until the next local elections
  • starostas will be included on executive committees only if local councils vote to include them
  • local council can pass a decision to allow its starosta to provide administrative services or perform some of the function of the administrative services office
  • the bill proposes to exclude the list of reasons for starosta’s early dismissal, i.e. to allow local councils to dismiss starostas at their discretion
  • the bill defines the criterion of political impartiality for judges of the Constitutional Court and the list of positions judges of the Constitutional Court cannot occupy.

Why this is important: starosta represents the interests of village or settlement that is a part of an amalgamated territorial community. His or her primary function is to represent the interests of the territorial community in the local council and its executive committee.

What is wrong:

  • MPs propose to diminish the role of starostas, to make them less protected from arbitrary dismissals. At present, the list of reasons for dismissing starostas is conclusive: voluntary resignation, loss of citizenship, criminal offence, etc.

the bill proposes changes to the Law on Judges of the Constitutional Court. However, they are not a subject matter of the bill and were not present in the draft version adopted in the first reading.


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