The law imposed on public figures the obligation to declare their income in order to control possible corruption schemes. The chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada considers this provision constitutional, while 65 deputies, along with the ombudsman, hold a different opinion. The Constitutional Court listened to their position and opened the proceedings.
The anti-discrimination protest
The essence of the procedure is in doubt about compliance with the Basic Law of Clause 5, Part 1, Article 3, Paragraph 3, Part 3, Article 45 of the Law «On Prevention of Corruption» dated October 14, 2014, № 1700 and Clause 2 of the Selection II «Final Provisions» of the Law «On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine Concerning the Peculiarities of Financial Control of Certain Categories of Officials» dated March 23, 2017.
The first rule defines a circle of subjects obliged to file declarations. They even include volunteers who struggle with corruption on their own or with third parties, but receive financial assistance for the implementation of their plans, in other words, grants from abroad. Anti-bribery fighters, who head anti-corruption public associations, were especially outraged.
According to them, those who oppose corruption should be above suspicion of corruption. But in Article 45 of Law № 1700 they were equated to potential participants in corruption schemes. Becouse, they are obliged to fill in the income statement within 10 calendar days after taking the position of the head or member of the supreme governing body of a non-business organization. Thus, the legislator put them in the same line with persons performing public functions or solves local issues.
The third contested rule in the Constitutional Court defines the time frame for the unlawful, according to the applicants, obligations. The parliament allegedly promised to deprive anti-corruption activists of the obligation to report their incomes, but this, contrary to expectations, did not happen, and for 2017 it was necessary to report. Complainants appeal to the opinion of the European community, which is extremely negative about this position of power, because it believes that civil society should be independent.
In addition, the destruction of corruption in Ukraine, many foreigners consider it an honorary mission. So, it turns out that they also fall under the scope of the state, and foreign volunteers do not like it.
The European Commission is confident, that such control will only discard off anti-corruption. Ukrainian laws are often incomprehensible to our citizens, not to mention foreigners. And what kind of activist should report to the state is easy to confuse.
The following declaration should be submitted by public figures in April. And they really hope that by that time the judges of the Constitutional Court will remove this shameful cargo.
Equality and fidelity
This week, the Grand Chamber of the Constitutional Court in plenary session began to consider the issue of the ratio of officials with representatives of non-governmental organizations..
The issue of lack of legal certainty in the aforementioned norms was violated both by the people’s representatives and the ombudsman. In early September, the Grand Chamber of the Constitutional Court combined their submissions into one constitutional proceeding. Then she sent to everyone involved requests for the compliance of articles with the Basic Law.
The arguments of the applicants were reported by the Judge of the Constitutional Court Volodymyr Moysyk. He voiced their position based on the uncertainty of the obligation of community activists to file declarations. In their opinion, the laws put additional restrictions on them, which violated the principle of equality. Also, the requirement to declare your property is an interference with private life, and this is a violation not only of Article 32 of the Constitution, but also Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In total, the submission contains references to general norms – Articles 8, 24, 64 of the Basic Law.
The law must be implemented not only by good citizens, but also by state authorities, who often face the problem of its application. Therefore, the position of official fighters against corruption to declare these provisions unconstitutional was more than unequivocal.
The specialized anti-corruption prosecutor’s office fully supported the authors of the submission. The National Anti-Corruption Bureau decided not to hurry with this conclusion, however, they confirmed that Article 45 of Law № 1700 is not clearly formulated, which makes its correct use impossible.
Most of all, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption suffered from the imposition of the contested provisions. It was to this addressed to clarify the controversial norms.. Therefore, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention developed a draft general explanation, posted on its website. According to expert opinion on its heritage, the agency turned to the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative in Ukraine and the Council of Europe Venice Commission. Now explanations are approved and the Judges of the Constitutional Court could familiarize themselves with them.
Supported by the complainants other non-governmental figures spoke about the unreasonable restrictions that should be excluded from the act.
However, some Judges had doubts, it would be correct to assign certain respondents to the circle of certain advisers of the Constitutional Court — amicus curiae. Голова Суду Станіслав Шевчук наголосив: «Public organizations can express their opinion on the case that is considered in the COP, even without her request, and their views are important», said Chairman of the Court Stanislav Shevchuk.
Only scholars did not voice their views on this matter, but they decided not to wait for their opinion and continue consideration in written proceedings.
It is now difficult to predict the outcome of the review of the joint presentation for outraged anti-corruption activists. On the one hand, the European views on this issue are supported by both the conventions and the Constitution of Ukraine. On the other hand, the subtleties of the Ukrainian mentality, incomprehensible to foreigners, make it possible to find a loophole for obtaining undue advantage in any place and in any size. Therefore, it is possible that the obligation to file a declaration will be a warning to dishonest persons.