Changes to the Criminal Code: each out for own advantage?
Opposition deputies want to decriminalize certain Articles of the Criminal Code. President Yanukovych has also spoken out in favour of decriminalization, but not for official, but for economic, offences.
Decriminalization has become much talked about of late among politicians and analysts. Several draft laws have been drawn up by opposition deputies, for example, Arseny Yatsenyuk from the Front for Change and Viacheslav Kirylenko from “For Ukraine”, aimed specifically at abolishing criminal liability for exceeding official powers. This is the charge laid against former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko.
In his explanatory note to the draft law, Yatsenyuk states that the present norm is duplicated from criminal legislation of the Ukrainian SSR valid between 1927 and 1960 and calls it relic of the Soviet repressive legal mechanism.
Kirylenko is asking parliament to abolish criminal liability of public officials for political decisions. He says that in the civilized world, politicians bear political liability for such decisions.
Gennady Moskal, from Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence had originally proposed amnestying Yulia Tymoshenko and Yury Lutsenko, who have not as yet been convicted, but now also supports changes to legislation.
On the other hand, deputies from the ruling majority say they don’t understand why the opposition wants only the decriminalization of certain articles, with particular politicians in mind, not the global situation. Valery Bondyk from the Party of the Regions and Deputy Chair of the Committee on Justice Issues says that certain articles need to be decriminalized, and that a Law is not passed solely with respect to any given person.
The President’s Administration is also supporting decriminalization but only in the section on economic crimes. The President proposes at the next session of the Verkhovna Rada cancelling punishment in the form of imprisonment, replacing this with financial penalties.
Andriy Portnov from the President’s Administration says that they are suggesting withdrawing Article 18 altogether since it is used by the law enforcement agencies to put pressure on the business community and small business owners.
Both the President and his Administration, and the opposition say that they are impelled by the wish to bring Ukraine’s legislation regarding civic rights into line with European legislation.
Deutsche Welle predicts that the EU will support such decriminalization, quote Stefan Fule’s interview to Kommersant – Ukraine.
From the report at http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0, , 15403709, 00.html
With regard to the EU’s respect, not everything is so clear. The President’s option, at least as reported, would still entail conviction, leaving Yulia Tymoshenko driven out of the political race since another norm in legislation says that people with criminal records cannot stand for office. In the case of President Yanukovych who had two convictions, these were later “removed”.