Ukrainian officials must annually report on their assets in an electronic declaration. However, they can lie and enter small fortunes, while buying expensive apartments, cars, and other property. To identify signs of such corruption offences, the NACP should conduct lifestyle monitoring of officials (LSM).
The purpose of this procedure is to check the correspondence of declarants’ standard of living declarants with the income and property received and declared by them and their family members. TI Ukraine has studied the effectiveness of LSM and prepared comprehensive recommendations for improving lifestyle monitoring as a financial control tool.
One of the important requirements for monitoring is the respect for the right to private and family life, guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under this right, public authorities in general cannot interfere in the private life of citizens, but there are exceptions.
In particular, during the course of LSM, interference in the private life of declarants is possible if it:
- Happens “according to the law.”
- Pursues a legitimate aim.
- Is necessary in a democratic society.
The analyzed judicial practice of the ECHR allows not only to come to realize the content of the three criteria, but also to correlate them with the procedure for monitoring the lifestyle of declarants in Ukraine. After examining the decision of the ECHR, it was concluded that none of the three criteria for ensuring the right to private and family life of officials in the course of LSM is fully met in Ukraine.
One of the key problems is the non-compliance with the “basic” criterion — “compliance with the law,” since this excludes the need for LSM to meet two other criteria: “having a legitimate aim” and “its necessity in a democratic society.” Therefore, first of all, it is necessary to formulate a regulatory definition of the concept of “lifestyle” and clearly spell out the content, grounds, terms, and boundaries of LSM. Thereafter, its legitimate goal — preventing and fighting corruption in Ukraine — will be ensured.
We also propose the following recommendations to improve LSM:
- to cancel the Methodological Recommendations of the NACP on the procedure for selective lifestyle monitoring of declaration entities;
- to conduct a broad and open discussion of the procedure for monitoring the lifestyle of officials in order to receive comments and suggestions from the public, experts, and others;
- to process the collected comments and prepare a draft procedure for monitoring the lifestyle of declaration entities;
- to approve such a procedure, submit it for state registration, and publish it.
Learn more about the judicial practice of the ECHR from the Annex of TI Ukraine’s study.