Don’t pay court compensation at our expense!
War veterans, people with disabilities and those who suffered from the Chernobyl Disaster have asked the government to recall a draft bill which guarantees payment of compensation awarded by courts against the State. The plan is to use money allocated in the Budget for ensuring social benefits to pay this compensation.
Draft Law No. 7562 “On State guarantees concerning enforcement of court rulings” was drawn up by the Ministry of Justice in implementation of the demand from the European Court of Human Rights that Ukraine reform judicial legislation. The draft law would create a separate column in the Budget for compensation awarded by courts against the State. The newspaper Kommersant – Ukraine reports the Ministry of Justice as predicting that no less than 3.5 billion UAH will be needed for this annually. The money would be found by re-directing public funding mainly from social programmes. The authors of the draft law propose that the Cabinet of Ministers be assigned the authority to establish the size and procedure for social payments which are presently regulation by the law and the Constitution. The Cabinet of Ministers would, for example, have control over spending on sanatorium and resort treatment, as well as medical care, for those who suffered from the Chernobyl Disaster and War veterans; over free city transport for work veterans, as well as on establishing the concessions on housing and communal services for personnel of the police and Prosecutor’s office (who presently have a 50-percent discount).
Trade unions and civic organizations of veterans from the Second World War and Afghanistan, and of those who suffered from the Chernobyl Disaster have come out against the initiative.
According to the Head of the Central Secretariat of the All-Ukrainian Chernobyl People’s Party, Mykola Isayev, the programmes for those affected by the 1986 nuclear disaster are already not fully covered, with benefits being reduced by the new draft law. He states that if the Cabinet of Ministers does not withdraw its draft law, there will be indefinite protests throughout the country.
The draft law is scheduled for consideration by parliament from 15 to 19 March. “Public discussion is being carried out too late - the document has already been accepted for consideration. Most likely our proposals will not be taken into account”, Viktor Kovalenko, Head of the Kharkiv Union of Afghanistan War Veterans, says.
Analysts believe that the Ministry of Justice is trying through this draft law to absolve the State of mandatory social payments stipulated by law and the Constitution.
According to former Minister of Justice and President of the Institute for Legal Policy, Mykola Onyshchuk, the proposal to allow the Cabinet of Ministers, and not the Verkhovna Rada to establish the level of social payments is in direct breach of Article 22 of the Constitution. He calls this an “unprecedented attempt by the Cabinet of Ministers fill the budget at the expense of socially vulnerable layers of society”.