Guest Post: The Ukrainian Constitutional Court’s Invalidation of Anticorruption Laws Has Plunged the Country into a Double Crisis

Today’s guest post is from Kyrylo Korol, a judicial clerk at the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine.

This past fall, between August and October, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine (CCU) ruled that several of Ukraine’s most important anticorruption laws and institutions are unconstitutional.

  • The CCU first ruled unconstitutional the Decree of the President of Ukraine on the appointment of the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), which is responsible for anticorruption investigations; the Court also invalidated the President’s powers to appoint NABU’s head, a decision that created uncertainty regarding the legitimacy of the current director of NABU. The Court reasoned that the because the power to appoint the NABU director was not included in the list of presidential powers specified in the Constitution, the President could not exercise this power. The CCU also ruled unconstitutional the external commission that evaluates NABU’s performance.
  • In a subsequent case, the CCU declared unconstitutional the powers of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) to check the public official’s declarations of assets. The Court reasoned that the NACP’s powers to review asset declarations extended to asset declarations submitted by judges, and that this arrangement would give an executive body impermissible control over the judiciary. The CCU further ruled that the law that imposes criminal liability for knowingly submitting a false asset declarations was unconstitutional, on the grounds that the penalties (which can include fines of up to $1,700, community service, or, imprisonment and disqualification from certain offices) was unconstitutionally disproportionate to the damage caused by the crime. These decisions led to the closure of hundreds of criminal cases for false declaration and the acquittals of public officials who had been found guilty of this crime. Going forward, the elimination of penalties for public officials who fail to file asset declarations, or who file false declarations, essentially nullifies the financial declaration system.

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