Lawyer Maksym Kostetskyi explains why appeals on NABU cases which are currently handled in courts, will as of now be reviewed in general jurisdiction courts instead of the Appeal Chamber of the High Anti-Corruption Court.
On 7 June the Ukrainian parliament was miraculously productive. They voted on a few hot issues in the session hall: chose the NABU auditor, passed the law on the diplomatic service, dismissed the Minister of Finance. Still, what drew the most attention was the review of the long-suffering draft law 7440 “On the High Anti-Corruption Court.”
The tremendous effort of the Ukrainian public and international partners eventually resulted in passage of the law on the anti-corruption court – the idea which nobody believed in mere two years ago, and to which everyone is now rushing to confirm their absolute commitment. Consensus has been reached on such problematic issues as the selection procedure for candidates for the positions of judges and the involvement of international experts in this process.
Where Does the Hidden Provision Come From?
Did the law turn out imperfect? Of course it did, but this is the necessary minimum that we can work on to get an independent judiciary institution as the final result. Yet, even after weeks-long negotiations and agreements with key international partners, it turned out that some people believed they were smarter than everyone else.
The provision that was found in the full text of the law, published on June 13, says that all cases already reviewed in courts by the moment when the High Anti-Corruption Court starts functioning, will continue to be reviewed in general jurisdiction court, including appeal review.
It was not read by Head of Committee on Legal Policy and Justice Ruslan Kniazevych in the session hall before the law was passed and was not discussed at the committee meeting.
This provision was included in the text of amendments to the law handed out an hour before passage of the law, and then on June 13 in the published text. The provision was not included in the comparative table prepared before the second reading, published on the Verkhovna Rada website, either.
Thus, the appeal will take place beyond the remit of the Anti-Corruption Court. However, according to prior agreements with international partners, corruption-related cases that are now being reviewed in general jurisdiction courts have to be appealed in the Appeal Chamber of the Anti-Corruption Court.
Why Is It So Important?
This provision effectively pardons all corrupt top-officials whose cases are already in courts. The NABU is currently working on 602 criminal proceedings, with 135 cases already referred to court.
The question immediately arises: why create the anti-corruption court if cases of corrupt top-officials will still be reviewed in general jurisdiction courts? The Ukrainian authorities don’t seem to have an answer to that.
Thus it is essential that we amend this provision and ensure that appeals on current cases against corrupt top-officials should be reviewed in the Appeal Chamber of the High Anti-Corruption Court.
There Are Two Ways:
- The President submits a draft law on introducing amendments to the Transitional Provisions of the Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine (on appealing cases under the jurisdiction of the High Anti-Corruption Court), and the Verkhovna Rada passes it as soon as possible.
- The amendment on appealing the cases under the jurisdiction of the High Anti-Corruption Court is made in the first reading of draft law 7441 “On Amending the Law of Ukraine ‘On Judiciary and the Status of Judges'” which is already being reviewed by the Verkhovna Rada.
The end result, in any case, must be the change to the appeal procedure and abolition of the shameful provision inserted into the final text of the law in such a manipulative way.
Additionally, let’s keep in mind that we still need to pass the technical Law of Ukraine “On Creation of the High Anti-Corruption Court” in order for the Court to start functioning.