Last week, we “celebrated” a year since the first meeting of the commission for the selection of the SAPO head. The institution has not been able to fully operate for more than a year due to the absence of a head. 

And the end of the competition is actually sabotaged by some members of the commission. What is happening and what to do next? Let’s try to figure out.

What is happening to the commission?

The commission formed of representatives from the Council of Prosecutors and the Verkhovna Rada at the initial stages raised some concern about its competence. If the commission consists of 4 internationally respected experts from the Council of Prosecutors, the parliamentarians adopted their list of 7 people only on the third attempt. And, unfortunately, this list includes people, most of whom had no experience in anti-corruption activity, although this was a legal requirement for getting into the commission.

From the very beginning, the meetings were conducted slowly and featured active discussions. For example, the first meeting went on for almost 10 hours because the members could not decide on the way to make decisions — with a simple majority or with the 5+2 scheme. The requirement is quite appropriate as the Parliament delegated 7 candidates, whereas the Council of Prosecutors — 4; when needed, all the decisions could have been adopted without international experts’ opinions.  That is why the 5+2 scheme was supported by the commission.

Unfortunately, even at the interview stage, it became clear that this competition will not be easy for anyone. “Collecting” enough votes for the candidate to pass further turned out to be an almost unattainable task. Some representatives of the commission from the Parliament made every effort to ensure that candidates to whom the public had no questions were not allowed to pass further. The members of the parliamentary commission wholeheartedly supported the candidates whose integrity was questioned, even when these candidates did not distinguish themselves in any way with their answers to the interview.

When the stage of integrity interviews ended, we were left with two candidates for two executive positions — the head and first deputy. We could even see the light at the end of the tunnel, but no such luck: this was where the active sabotage of the competition began.

On October 9, 2021, three members of the commission from the Parliament did not attend the meeting to approve the practical task. Olena Busol, Andrii Hudzhal, and Yevhenii Sobol did not join the meeting even online. It is simply impossible to call such an act anything other than a disruption and sabotage. The meeting was postponed until October 12, but the commission did not meet on that day either.

And this is all against the background of constant promises and repeated commitments on the part of the Ukrainian authorities at the international level that this competition will be brought to its logical conclusion. Even in various international agreements and commitments, the relevant points were spelled out, in particular, in the joint statement as a result of the meeting between Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Joe Biden in September this year. In other words, our President personally committed himself to ensuring transparent selection. The country’s image only loses from the failure to fulfill such rather straightforward promises.

What do we do next?

First of all, it is this competition that needs to be completed. A year of such difficult work simply cannot be tossed on the scrap heap. The SAPO needs a full-fledged manager who will fully implement his functions. As of now, Iryna Venediktova makes many decisions about the work of the SAPO, which is often inconvenient both logistically and politically (and we remember that there should be no politics in the work of the SAPO at all).

The next step is to introduce changes to the legislation on two issues:

  1. Equate the procedural powers of the acting head of the SAPO with a full-fledged head. This is what will help protect the institution from external influences and avoid a similar situation, when some functions of the head of the SAPO are performed by the Prosecutor General, which is an absolutely political position in Ukraine.
  2. Change the procedure for selecting the head of the SAPO. After all, the existing provisions in the legislation are obviously insufficient for an independent and transparent competition. It is necessary to ensure the participation of independent experts in the selection commission at the legislative level and full verification of candidates for both professional qualities and integrity.

On October 19, the commission should finally meet to decide on the future of this “cursed” competition. And we really hope for a balanced decision.

When the stage of integrity interviews ended, we were left with two candidates for two executive positions — the head and first deputy. We could even see the light at the end of the tunnel, but no such luck: this was where the active sabotage of the competition began. 

Source: blog.liga.net