Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law on the anti-corruption court in the second reading today, with 317 deputies voting in favor of the bill.
Ukraine’s independent National Anti Corruption Bureau and Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office have long called for the court, without which they say prosecutors will not be able to convict the country’s most corrupt. According to the Atlantic Council, despite sending more than 100 investigations to court since 2015, NABU hasn't been able to obtain any major convictions.
President Petro Poroshenko, who initiated the bill, touted its adoption a victory.
Photo credit: Vladyslav Musienko/POOL
During his speech, he stated that the law complied with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, which is a condition of future cooperation between Ukraine and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, whether the law is up to the standard required by the IMF, is not clear.
During a recent visit to Ukraine, Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio stressed that the implementation of the anti-corruption court is a vital prerequisite for Ukraine’s European future.
“The most vital challenge that Ukraine faces today is to create the mechanisms to combat corruption. Therefore, the anti-corruption court should provide such instruments. But Ukraine has no chance for mistakes here — the stakes are too high,” he said.
Ukrainian MP Svitlana Zalishchuk said while the adoption of the anti-corruption court law is a step forward, certain questions with regard to the legislation remained, which she believes could be used for manipulation of the judge selection process.
The government has delayed the creation of the anti-corruption court for several months. However following pressure from both Ukrainian and foreign bodies, Poroshenko submitted a new draft law to parliament late last year. A draft bill was later adopted by parliament on its first reading in March.
Photo credit: Mykhailo Markiv/POOL/UNIAN
However, earlier versions of the legislation fuelled tension between the government and its western partners. The IMF, one of Ukraine’s biggest lenders, criticized the bill in its earlier version, saying it would allow for the appointment of partisan judges. The IMF has stressed the importance of establishment of an independent body, where international experts played a key role in the selection process of judges.
Poroshenko, meanwhile, earlier called the demands an infringement on Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Parliament started to look at the bill in its second reading in late May. More than 1900 amendments of the bill were submitted. The law was passed in its second reading on June 7, with 317 of the 378 deputies present, voting in favor of the legislation.
The creation of the court is supposed to mark the completion of anti-corruption reforms that began in 2015.
“The anti-corruption court will become the final link in the chain of the newly created anti-corruption bodies, which will be able to ensure unavoidability of punishment of corrupt officials,” legal advisor of Transparency International Ukraine Maksym Kostetskyi stated last year.
/By Natalie Vikhrov and Mariia Ulianovska