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20 August, 2013

Transparency International: Ukrainian Authorities Merely Imitate Fighting Corruption

Transparency International experts say one of the reasons the anti-corruption programme is inefficient is that the objective is to imitate counteraction rather than achieve specific results. Moreover, corruption-infected agencies are involved in managing anti-corruption measures

In the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International, Ukraine ranks 144th out of 176 countries. It shares this “honorary” place with countries like Bangladesh, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo and Syria. Ukraine ranks low in other anti-corruption rating lists as well. For example, in its Nations in Transit 2012 report, Freedom House gave Ukraine 6 out of 7 points for corruption and the dependent nature of the judicial branch (1 marks the lowest and 7 the maximum level). In 2011, the respective indexes were somewhat more comforting: 5.7 points for corruption and 5.5 points for judicial dependence.

However, “improvement” must not be too far off, because Ukraine has its 2011-2015 State Programme to Prevent and Counteract Corruption — a programme with a budget of  UAH 800mn.

Transparency International Ukraine in partnership with the Anti-Corruption Council of Ukraine and a number of other non-governmental organizations carried out civic monitoring of the programme’s implementation. Among other things, experts evaluated the extent to which the programme’s measures were being implemented. In their opinion, the programme proved to be inefficient. One of the reasons they cited is that some of the programme's tasks appear aimed giving the impression of counteraction rather than achieving specific results. Another reason is that corruption-infected agencies are involved in overseeing and managing anti-corruption measures.

READ ALSO: Transparency International Global Corruption Barometer: Ukraine has become more corrupt over the last two years

Not the Party of Regions

According to a survey conducted by the Razumkov Centre and the Democratic Initiatives Foundation, corruption is one of the hottest problems experienced by Ukrainian voters. The majority of the political parties include anti-corruption slogans in their campaign platforms. However, the Party of Regions was a notable exception to this rule in the 2012 election.

Meanwhile, the Communists threatened to abolish immunity for government officials and introduce severe punishment for abuse of office and for bribery. The Svoboda (Freedom) Party declared the need to combat political corruption and bribery among MPs. The Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Party stated the need to strip MPs and judges of immunity, cancel perks for officials, and so on. The UDAR party also proposed breaking the system of corruption. However, according to experts, “politicians’ declarations about being ready to combat corruption have not been borne out by real action for a long time”. Changes began to appear only thanks to the dialogue with the European Union about relaxing visa requirements for Ukrainians and the possible signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. This is what facilitated the passage of a series of important anti-corruption laws in April-May 2013: on the criminalization of corruption, on harmonizing Ukrainian legislation and the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and on introducing responsibility for legal persons guilty of corruption. The president signed them without any critical remarks. “Even though the passage of these laws is an important step towards the prevention and counteraction of corruption, evaluation of their impact on corruption in Ukraine will not be possible until much later. Moreover, Ukrainian practice convincingly shows that even the most perfect law can be rendered void by the way it is enforced. A vivid case in point is the Law “On Access to Public Information,” say representatives of Transparency International.

READ ALSO: Transparency International Ukraine: government pointlessly wastes 95% of anti-corruption money

The anti-corruption situation in Ukraine remains distressing. In 2011-2012, not one centre for coordinating anti-corruption policy was set up in the country. There has been no significant breakthrough in reforming anti-corruption legislation, either, experts say. The activities of the executive authorities in combatting corruption have not been systematically organized and targeted.

It is nearly impossible to evaluate the actions taken by law enforcement agencies in instituting criminal and administrative proceedings against individuals who have committed corruption. According to official data, investigation departments sent 1,887 criminal cases and 2,438 cases on corruption to courts in 2012. However, the reports of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ministry of Justice on implemented measures say nothing about court trials in these cases. A review of recent years suggests that prosecution for such cases is not very efficiency, experts say. The primary reason is corruption in the law enforcement agencies themselves.

Interestingly, lower-level officials are most often charged with corruption offences, and many individuals who have committed such offences nevertheless remain in their offices.

No measures

The key recommendations of international anti-corruption organizations, particularly GRECO and the Anti-Corruption Network of the Organization for Cooperation and Development, have not been fulfilled. They include advice on reforming the civil service, law enforcement agencies and the judicial system; setting up a specialized independent anti-corruption agency; establishing a clear hierarchy of various legislative acts and regulations; proper regulation of the administrative process; independent auditing of state finances at the local level; reforming the system of political financing, etc.

READ ALSO: The Red Card for Corruption

In order to implement these recommendations, the Constitution needs to be amended, including provisions that determine the scope of immunity for MPs and judges, the procedure for appointing judges and the Prosecutor General, the foundations for forming the Higher Council of Justice, etc. In addition, a number of new laws will need to be drafted and/or passed: the Law “On Normative-Legal Acts”, the Administration Procedure Code, the Law “On Service in Bodies of Local Self-Government" and others. Changes will need to be made to some effective laws, such as “On Civil Service”, “On the Judicial System and the Status of Judges” and so on.

“The implementation of the State Programme is not efficient: the overall performance rating for 2012 was 2.7 out of 5. No measures were fully implemented under 5 out of the 15 sections of the 2012 State Programme,” experts say.

“The State Programme does not provide for financing the majority of the measures it envisions, extends only to the executive authorities and contains a number of technical mistakes. The success of the fight against corruption in Ukraine depends both on how efficiently the State Programme measures are carried out and whether systemic reforms (administrative, judicial, in state finances, in law enforcement agencies, etc.) are implemented. At the same time, the State Programme does not establish a clear connection with such reforms or other state programmes, which significantly reduces its role as a road map for preventing and combatting corruption,” the report says.

READ ALSO: Operation “Imitation”

Experts prepared a series of recommendations to make the implementation of the state anti-corruption policy more efficient. For example, the President is advised to draft and submit to the Verkhovna Rada a bill on amending the Constitution in order to make the degree of immunity enjoyed by MPs and judges conform to the international standards, particularly GRECO’s recommendations. Moreover, the Audit Chamber should be given the authority to inspect how government property is being used. The procedure for appointing and dismissing the Prosecutor General of Ukraine should be revised to increase his independence. The procedure according to which the Higher Council of Justice is formed and judges are appointed and fired also requires revision.

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