Draft bill on Bureau on Anti-Corruption Investigations sent back for reworking
On Wednesday the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Fighting Organized Crime and Corruption considered the draft law on a National Bureau on Anti-Corruption Investigations. It was stated during the session that the creation of an anti-corruption bureau is one of the conditions for Ukraine receiving a visa-free regime with the EU. At the same time most of the members of the Committee decided that it was “not the right time” to pass the draft bill.
The main item on the agenda was discussion of the draft bill on a National Bureau on Anti-Corruption Investigations prepared by Oleksandr Ryabeka from the opposition BYuT faction. The document had already been approved by the Committee yet was then removed from consideration. Mr Ryabeka stressed that the draft bill envisaged the creation of an independent body as per the recommendations of the European Union. He commented that his draft bill differed from the previously approved draft only in the procedure for appointing the heads of the Bureau. Until the revoking by the Constitutional Court in October 2010 of the 2004 version of the Constitution it had been envisaged that this function would be carried out by the Cabinet of Ministers. Ryabeka now proposes to hand these powers to the President.
The draft law was supported by the Acting Chair of the Committee, Hennady Moskal (Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence). He pointed out that in Brussels on 22 November 2010 President Yanukovych had been handed a document entitled “Visa-Free dialogue between Ukraine and the EU: An Action Plan for liberalizing the visa regime”. He said that one of the items in this plan is Ukraine’s adoption of anti-corruption legislation, the creation of a single independent anti-corruption body. He stressed that there would be no visa-free regime without this and that if the President had taken on such commitments, they must be honoured. “This is an official document of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, only I don’t understand why they wrote that the said action plan is not intended for publication in the press, posting on the website and any form of being made public. I don’t see any secret here. Why can we not make this public at the Committee meeting?”
Argument then followed with two Party of the Regions Deputies. Artyom Pshonka suggested that such an anti-corruption body would require major financing, which Ryabeka denied. Then Yan Tabachnyk intervened saying: “It transpires that we have a dependent Prosecutor, dependent Ministry of the Interior and dependent SBU [Security Service]. Would it not be better to make these bodies independent than to create yet another, dependent, body?” Hennady Moskal responded by asking whether they wanted to be part of Europe or not, and the discussion became even more heated. Deputies began shouting that “with the adoption of the draft law the latest monster would be created”.
Members of the Party of the Regions insisted that the draft bill was “rough” and that it was “not the right time” for it. Ryabeka then unexpectedly asked the Committee not to take a decision and said that he wanted to “work on it both in the Committee and with those on whom the adoption of a decision depends, including in the President’s Administration. Give me the chance to get it agreed”, he asked.
This proposal to recall the draft bill for reworking received unanimous support from the Committee’s members with Artyom Pshonka enthusiastically declaring his support.
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