The beginning of the document indicates Ukraine’s commitment to finish what it started. Ensuring the permanent independence of the anti-corruption infrastructure is one of these unfinished issues.
In the statement, both presidents recorded the need for “immediate election of a new Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor in accordance with the best international practices.” This is a need that is getting more urgent every day because the SAPO has been left for more than a year without an actual manager and the competition in general seems to have reached a dead end.
More than a month ago, the commission completed integrity interviews with candidates and allowed two applicants to continue participating in the competition. However, during this time, the selection process did not continue.
The quick final of this competition will be an indicator of whether the Presidential Office is ready to stop playing games and finally allow the commission to decide who will be the first and second person in the SAPO.
In the same clause of the statement, the presidents noted the importance of adoption of the legislation to protect the powers of the NABU director and ensure a transparent and reliable selection process for his successor. This is crucial.
The term of office of the current NABU director Artem Sytnyk ends in April 2022, but the rules for electing a new director have not yet been adopted. As for now, the draft law No. 5459-1 regarding the change in the status of NABU and the rules for holding a competition for the head of the Bureau was adopted only in the first reading.
According to this draft law, the government can appoint the director of the NABU based on the results of a competition, which will be held by a commission of 6 people. In certain cases, the Cabinet of Ministers will also be able to dismiss the head of the Bureau. Three members will be delegated to the commission by the Cabinet of Ministers, and three more will be delegated by the same government, but according to the proposals of international partners. The current NABU director will exercise his powers until a new one is appointed according to the established procedure, that is, he may be dismissed ahead of schedule, although, given the speed of consideration of these issues, this is unlikely to happen before April.
At the same time, there is still another risk the draft law entails — presenting two candidates for this position to the government. Therefore, before the second reading, MPs should make changes that could improve this draft law.
The problem of choosing the senior leadership of anti-corruption bodies is not limited to the NABU and SAPO. The Asset Recovery and Management Agency (ARMA) has been without a manager for almost two years. The Verkhovna Rada has not yet decided on its candidates for the commission.
And, of course, the presidents could not ignore the implementation of judicial reform. Please note, precisely implementation. “Based on the adoption of legislation on the reform of the judicial system, Ukraine plans to reform its judicial sector in accordance with the best international practices,” the presidents stated in their statement.
Corrupt courts and judges affect all spheres of life in the country without exception, so, the implementation of this reform is now a key challenge.
In July, the Parliament finally passed the necessary laws, and the High Council of Justice even launched the process. However, the issue of abolishing the Kyiv Administrative Court is still on pause — Zelenskyy’s draft law, to which there are also several questions, is stuck in the Committee on Legal Policy. It is almost impossible to reform the Ukrainian courts, when Vovk and Co. are still in office because according to the current laws, it is the KAC that resolves disputes with state authorities.
As we can see, the United States, as our strategic partner, expects the same from Ukrainian statesmen as we do: a fair court, independence of anti-corruption bodies, and transparent policies. It is good that there is an action plan for each of the points and all these things were recorded before the new political season in Ukraine. Starting from September 7, the Parliament will be able to show all its determination.
However, if the MPs still have questions about how to work with this, we are ready to help and support them.