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Deputies unable to defer the fight against corruption

23.12.2009    source: www.dw-world.de

The new anti-corruption laws will come into force on 1 January 2010. The latest attempt by a group of Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada to put this off has failed.

Dmytro Kotlyar, on behalf of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development consults Ukrainian legislators on fighting corruption. He told the Ukrainian Service of Deutsche Welle that he was pleased the Deputies’ initiative had failed, with only 208 Deputies – the Party of the Regions, the Lytvyn Bloc and some members of Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence – voting for a deferment.

The draft law proposing a deferment had been tabled by Oleh Novikov, one of the Minister of Internal Affairs colleagues from “People’s Self-Defence”.  Mr Kotlyar is baffled as to why the laws passed back in June aroused concern among some members of the Deputy corps just days before they are to come into effect, although he does acknowledge that the laws contain some flaws. “There are certain grounds for concern. However the laws are not as catastrophic as some Deputies paint them. Some insignificant problems in the laws are linked with the fact that destructive amendments were introduced into the draft laws at the last minute. One can even assume that this was done deliberately so that some “inconvenient” norms of the laws did not work fully.”, Mr Kotlyar suggests. He cites as an example the norm on unlawful gaining of wealth.

“The deferment of these laws would have set Ukraine back several years in the fight against corruption and in bringing domestic legislation into line with international norms”, he insists. He says that the grounds for the Deputies’ opposition to the laws was in the main fear of judges. For example, when PACE Co-Rapporteur Ms Wohlwend met with members of the Supreme Court, the latter told her directly that they didn’t like the ban on financing courts from sources not linked to the Budget. Furthermore, officials from all law enforcement agencies and other State bodies will not have the right to accept “material assistance” from individuals and legal entities.

Despite problems with the financing of the courts or other State institutions, Mr Kotlyar is convinced, these norms are justified since private funding of State institutions and authorities is a source of corruption. “It is inadmissible that corrupt interests should be the basis for cancelling anti-corruption laws”.

As an example of non-Budgetary funding of the authorities, one can mention the activities of the notorious “Ukrainian Association of Prosecutors” which collects from enterprises and “all feeling concerned” funds “to promote the carrying out of the tasks of the Prosecutor’s Office, as a body whose activities are aimed at the affirmation of the rule of law”.

Among the new anti-corruption instruments within the new laws, Dmytro Kotlyar highlights the increased liability of civil servants. They will now have to undergo an anti-corruption check already at the stage of getting a job. Previously only top public officials had to report on their profits. Restrictions are also being introduced on presents to public officials – they need to be declare, while expensive presents should be passed to the State Budget. Liability is also introduced for trading influence and illegal forms of enriching oneself, he summarizes.

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