On June 3, MPs voted for the presidential draft law No. 4651 on strengthening criminal liability for lying in declarations. However, right in the Hall, MPs adopted three amendments to the draft law which largely offset its positive effects and the effects of e-declaration of officials in general.
Immediately after the adoption of this law by parliamentarians, the President promised to veto it.
“I will not allow the destruction or weakening of the e-declaration of officials. It is impossible to sign the law in the form voted in the Verkhovna Rada. This is not what the Ukrainians expect and not what I promised them when I submitted this draft law to the Parliament for consideration. We must establish proportional and fair punishment for offenses related to declaration,” Zelenskyy stressed.
What did these 3 amendments mean?
Failure to submit a declaration after making changes ceased to result in 2 years of imprisonment. That is, the violator can only get off by restriction of freedom and not by deprivation of it.
In addition, the MPs changed their approaches to declaring assets owned by the declarant’s family members. Declarants will be able not to indicate property belonging to other family members in their declarations without the risk of going to prison. At the same time, they will be able to justify the lack of such information by saying that information about the property was simply not provided by family members.
The draft law in the version adopted by the committee can indeed be considered positive and aimed at strengthening liability for false declaration. Such a draft law should be adopted without the above-mentioned negative amendments.
Why was the President’s veto necessary?
- These changes not only did not strengthen the system of declaration and punishment for non-submission of declarations, they reduced to zero the meaning of declaration in general because they allowed simply to rewrite the property of declarants to relatives and not report it in any way.
- A full-fledged e-declaration system is one of the main reforms, associated with billions of financial assistance and loans. It was hardly possible to count on the future aid from international partners after a number of such changes because they provided new opportunities for corruption.
- There is a demand in society for the inevitability of punishment for corruption offenses, and this cannot be ignored. Moreover, the Venice Commission in its conclusions has repeatedly stressed the need to introduce more serious sanctions for false declaration. The public also calls for the introduction of proper liability of officials for lying in declarations and their failure to submit them!
We in TI Ukraine, in general, evaluated and supported the original draft law as a movement in the right direction. However, after the amendments were made, all its positive impact was completely lost. Therefore, we called on the President to veto it as soon as possible.