Committing to the Fight Against Corruption in Ukraine (04.12.2017)
Recent events—including the disruption of a high-level corruption investigation, the arrest of officials from the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), and the seizure of sensitive NABU files—raise concerns about Ukraine’s commitment to fighting corruption. These actions appear to be part of an effort to undermine independent anti-corruption institutions that the United States and others have helped support. They undermine public trust and risk eroding international support for Ukraine.
As Secretary Tillerson has said: “It serves no purpose for Ukraine to fight for its body in Donbas if it loses its soul to corruption. Anti-corruption institutions must be supported, resourced, and defended.”
Reflecting the choice of the people of Ukraine, the United States calls on all branches of Ukraine’s government to work together cooperatively to eliminate corruption from public life. Eliminating corruption is key to achieving stability, security, and prosperity for all Ukrainians.
Statement of the spokesperson on recent developments in the fight against corruption in Ukraine
The fight against corruption is a key element in the development of EU-Ukraine relations, upon which the success of other reforms rests.
The public disclosure of a corruption investigation by the General Prosecutor Office significantly weakens the capacity of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to effectively conduct investigations and undermines public trust in an effective fight against corruption.
As already expressed, Ukrainian authorities have to reinforce their efforts to ensure the independence, operational capacity and full effectiveness of the anti-corruption institutions. The work of these institutions must not be undermined but reinforced.
IMF Statement on the Efforts to Fight Corruption in Ukraine
December 6, 2017
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today in Washington, D.C.:
“We are deeply concerned by recent events in Ukraine that could roll back progress that has been made in setting up independent institutions to tackle high-level corruption, including the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the Special Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO). Fighting corruption is a key demand of the Ukrainian society, is crucial to achieving stronger and equitable growth, and is part of the government’s commitment under the program with the IMF.
“We urge the Ukrainian authorities and parliament to safeguard the independence of NABU and SAPO. We also urge the authorities to move quickly with legislation to operationalize an independent anticorruption court consistent with the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, which is essential to credibly adjudicate high-level corruption cases.”
Zivilgesellschaft der Ukraine
Open letter of the Ukrainian civil society to the leadership of the European Union ahead of the upcoming annual meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council on December 8, 2017 (05.12.2017)
On behalf of Ukraine’s civil society and reform community, we would like to address you regarding the evaluation of the reform process taking place since the signature of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. We acknowledge significant results Ukraine has achieved, particularly in the spheres of investigation of high-profile corruption and ensuring transparency, which to a great extent were due to the efforts, support and investments of the European Union and its Member States.
However, the more threatening anti-corruption reform becomes to the vested interests of the political elites, the more resistance and pressure it tends to meet. That is why in order to ensure further progress in fighting corruption and preventing the rollback of anti-corruption reform, we call on the European Union to continue closely monitoring implementation the developments in this area and conditioning further assistance on specific reform deliverables.
The decision of the Ukrainian people to pursue the path of European integration, which triggered the Euromaidan protests back in 2014, and a subsequent process of implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement became a milestone for Ukraine’s comprehensive transformation into a rule-of-law democracy. Provisions of the Association Agreement have been serving as a powerful toolbox for further reforms aimed at eliminating corruption and enhancing justice, good governance and human rights. It has also substantially strengthened the role of Ukraine’s vibrant civil society, allowing it to become a driving force in the reform process.
In the justice sector, Ukraine’s reform progress has already produced a number of tangible results: an institutional framework for independent investigation and prosecution of top-level corrupt officials has been set up, and one of the most advanced electronic systems in the world requiring public officials and politicians to disclose information about their private assets was introduced. In the field of public procurement, public finance management and access to government and public databases of social significance, high standards of transparency of public institutions have been set. Additionally, one of the most corrupt state agencies—traffic police—is being transformed into the new Patrol Police in the framework of the comprehensive law enforcement reform. With all these measures undertaken, Ukrainian society is step-by-step developing zero-tolerance for corruption.
However, a significant number of anti-corruption achievements are now experiencing a serious rollback. Verification of e-declarations of public officials is being sabotaged, the majority of corruption-related cases are stuck in the Ukrainian non-reformed courts for months, while National Anti-corruption Bureau, Ukraine’s recently established anti-corruption agency, is facing mounting pressure from other institutions representing the old system with vested political interests. Moreover, over the past year, Ukrainian civil society activists and NGOs have been systematically subject to discrimination and even physical attacks, particularly in the regions.
In order to advance the reforms that have already been implemented and to prevent their rollback, close cooperation between Ukraine’s civil society and its international partners is crucial. Namely, we would like to emphasize the following measures that we are calling our European partners to strongly support:
establishment of an independent anti-corruption court to be selected with the involvement of international experts, as recommended by the Venice Commission;protection of the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) from further attacks (limiting NABU powers in criminal procedure, undermining ability to investigate illicit enrichment and false statements in e-declarations, cutting the list of officials that fall under NABU jurisdiction, criminal case of Prosecutor General’s Office against NABU Director, administrative case of the National Agency for Corruption Prevention against NABU Director, numerous attempts to appoint a NABU auditor loyal to the ruling elites etc.);rebooting the National Agency for Corruption Prevention by reshuffling its leadership (open and transparent competition with the involvement of international experts) and providing it with automatic verification modules to ensure progress in verification of state officials’ electronic declarations;cancelling an obligation for civil society activists to submit e-declarations similarly to public officials (respective provisions come into full force on January 1, 2018);immediately ceasing all types of harassment (physical pressure, defamation media campaigns and additional regulatory burden) against civil society activists and organizations.
The Association Agreement is a lighthouse for Ukraine’s further transformation and implementation of the systemic reforms. Moreover, the conditionalities of the EU assistance programs that Ukraine undertook to comply with have proven to be among the most powerful tools for effective reforms advocacy. Meanwhile, as follows from the recent statement of the European Commission dated December 1st, the Commission will not disburse its last, third, tranche of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine until the four outstanding measures in the anti-corruption and economic field are implemented. This decision is yet another acknowledgement of Ukraine’s insufficient progress in advancing its reform agenda and a clear signal that the pace of the reform should significantly accelerate.
That is why, in the run-up to the 4th annual meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council of December 8th and the upcoming United Nations Anti-corruption Day of December 9th, we would like to kindly ask you to urge the Government of Ukraine to honour its anti-corruption commitments, including listed above, and emphasize the potential consequences of further backsliding of the reform process in Ukraine.
We are grateful for your consideration of this letter and firmly believe that only in cooperation with our international partners, particularly the European Union and its Member States, we will be able to build a law-governed state and make Ukraine’s democratic transition irreversible.
Civil society coalition “Reanimation Package of Reforms” (unites 80 CSOs)
Transparency International Ukraine
Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM)
Centre for Economic Strategy
Centre for Political and Legal Research
Center for Political Studies and Analysis “Eidos”
Europe without Barriers
Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiative Foundation
Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation
Human rights platform
Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research
Charity Foundation “Patients of Ukraine”
Center for Local Self-Governance
Advocacy Center “LIFE”
Lab for Democratic Transformations
TI Ukraine Urges Authorities to Stop Dismounting Anti-Corruption Reform (07.12.2017)
Transparency International Ukraine urges the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to reject draft directive to dismiss Head of the Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction Yehor Soboliev and draft Law of Ukraine #7362, which will allow the parliament to impeach the credit of heads of anti-corruption agencies by simple vote of majority.
The chapter of the global network is convinced that passage of such a draft law would mean complete dismounting of the anti-corruption reform which started in 2014, as well as invalidation of any attempts at corruption counteraction in Ukraine.
On Wednesday, December 6, the Committee on Corruption Prevention and Counteraction recognized the work of its head Yehor Soboliev unsatisfactory and initiated the procedure of his dismissal from the position of the head of the committee. TI Ukraine is convinced that this vote is the revenge of certain public officials for his active protection of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and his attempts to stop the effort to halt the anti-corruption reform. It is thanks to Yehor Soboliev that institutional independence of the NABU and the NAPC has been defended, the Public Expertise Council which provides anti-corruption expertise on legislation has been created under the Committee.
At the same time, TI Ukraine emphasizes that dismissal of the Head of the Committee is only possible after consideration of the respective draft directive at a committee meeting, which has not been done.
As the next step, draft law #7362 was registered in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine today—“On Introduction of Changes to Certain Laws of Ukraine Concerning Ensuring Parliamentary Control,” which was sent for consideration to the Committee for Corruption Prevention and Counteraction. The draft law in question introduces changes to several laws which enable the parliament to impeach credit of the Director of the NABU, Head of the SAP, Director of the State Investigation Bureau, a member of the NAPC, which will lead to the aforementioned officials having to resign. Besides, the aforementioned officials can from now on be fired not only if they commit a crime, but a corruption-related administrative offense as well.
The aforementioned legislative brings the newly created anti-corruption agencies under full control of Ukrainian public authorities and mean that they would lose independence in their activity. In its turn, it will lead to complete dismounting of the anti-corruption reform in Ukraine and complete termination of true anti-corruption fight in this country.
Remember that Ukraine’s anti-corruption achievements became the main reason why Ukraine was awarded visa-free regime, and the termination of the anti-corruption reform may very well lead to cancellation of the visa-free regime with the EU.
TI Ukraine has already addressed international partners with a request to call on the Ukrainian authorities to stop destruction of the anti-corruption reform. For instance, the joint statement of the international coalition of CSOs at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery currently taking place in Washington, DC, there is a point urging Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine to stop pressuring the National Anti-Corruption Bureau.
TI Ukraine calls on the Ukrainian authorities to stop their counterproductive activity on destruction of independence of Ukrainian anti-corruption agencies. Termination of the fight against corruption will have a negative impact on economic recovery and Ukraine’s integration into the European community.