The parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted yesterday a resolution on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine. Voted 106 deputies, against – 11.
As noted in the document published on the PACE website, in the difficult situation caused by the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian aggression in the East of the country, Ukraine has made significant progress in the issue of changing the legal framework necessary for reform.
Full text of the resolution:
1. The parliamentary Assembly welcomes the ambitious programme of reforms in the Ukrainian government aimed at meeting the needs of the Ukrainian population during the revolution of Dignity. She acknowledged that these reforms are in a difficult situation, as a result of Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea. Recognizing the interconnectedness of the Minsk process and a number of reforms, the Assembly stresses that the lack of progress in the implementation of the Minsk agreements should not be used as a pretext for refusing to maintain the pace or obligations, implementation of reforms needed for strengthening democracy in the country. There has been significant progress in changing the legal framework necessary for reform. It is now important that these legislative changes were implemented and the transition to changes in behaviour and practice.
2. Given the role of the Council of Europe as the leading organization on human rights, which provides a high European legal standards and gathering best practices in their implementation, the Assembly welcomes the close cooperation of Ukraine with the relevant organs of the Council. Such cooperation includes support to the implementation in strategically important areas of internal reforms, including decentralization, judicial system and electoral legislation, the fight against corruption and the effective protection of human rights. Much of this support is carried out in the framework of the action plan of Ukraine in the Council of Europe and the parliamentary Assembly welcomes the significant progress made in the implementation of the current plan of action for the period 2015-2017.
3. The Assembly expresses its concern at the tapering of the political discourse after the events of the Euromaidan and the war in the East of Ukraine, around the Ukrainian opposition political forces, who are accused of treason or extremism. Although the latter need to be considered, the Assembly calls on all political forces to overcome their differences and animosity, and work together to ensure stability and strengthening of democracy in the country. The Assembly urges the authorities to take all measures to ensure a pluralistic political environment in which political opposition is able to fully perform their democratic functions.
4. Polarization of the conflict and tension has affected the media environment in the same way as the political environment in which they are located, the result of which were several attacks on journalists and the media, which is unacceptable. Welcoming the condemnation of the attacks by the authorities, the Assembly calls on to investigate the attack fully and transparently, and to ensure that perpetrators were brought to justice. She noted that a number of Russian journalists and media representatives declared a threat to national security and the constitutional order and they are banned entry to Ukraine. At that time, as the fears of the Ukrainian authorities in the Russian propaganda and information war are legitimate and understandable, the ban on journalist from entering Ukraine should be used only as a last resort, in accordance with articles 16 and 17 of the European Convention on human rights and article 20 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights. The Assembly expresses concern about the publication of the names and addresses of a large number of journalists accredited to the Donbass, which, consequently, was accused of collaborating with the “rebels” jeopardizing their personal security.
5. The Assembly reiterates the importance of a comprehensive constitutional reform for the successful implementation of the overall reform in the country. Therefore, it warmly welcomes the priority attention from the authorities and the Verkhovna Rada to the constitutional reform process and achieved to-date results. In particular, the Assembly:
- 5.1. welcomes the close cooperation with the European Commission for democracy through law (Venice Commission) and the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe in the preparation of the chapters decentralisation, on the basis of the European Charter of local self-government (ETS No. 122) and other applicable Council of Europe standards. She recognizes that the adoption of this Chapter is closely linked to the progress in the implementation of the Minsk protocols. Thus, the Assembly expresses the hope that progress in the implementation of the Minsk protocols by all the signatory States, in particular the Russian Federation, will allow to adopt the amendments in the final reading in the near future. Here he emphasizes that the decentralization process is important for the stability and strengthening of democracy in the country as a whole, and taking into account the ethnic composition of the regions;
- 5.2. welcomes the adoption in the final reading of the constitutional amendments regarding the judiciary and system of justice, which remove serious obstacles to the reform of the judicial system, in accordance with the norms and standards of the Council of Europe. She urged the authorities, especially the Parliament, to promptly take all necessary legislative acts, and, if necessary, to amend existing legislation to implement these constitutional amendments.
- 5.3. particularly welcomes the abolition of the General oversight function of the Prosecutor General, which is contrary to European standards. She stresses that abolishing this oversight, Ukraine has fulfilled one of its remaining obligations associated with membership in the Council of Europe.
6. The Assembly expects the adoption of a constitutional amendment to give new impetus to the reform of the judicial system to ensure its genuine independence from external and internal interference and influence. Thus, the Assembly:
- 6.1. welcomes the adoption of the new law On judicial system and status of judges in accordance with the constitutional amendments;
- 6.2. takes note of the proposed amendments to the law On the constitutional Court, which, in the opinion of the Venice Commission are the improvement of the current legislation; she calls on the authorities to implement the remaining recommendations of the Venice Commission, in particular in respect of individual complaints to the constitutional Court;
- 6.3. takes note of the fact that the draft law On the high Council of justice was prepared in close cooperation with the Council of Europe and welcomed the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of this law, which reflects the recommendations of the Council of Europe and its compatibility with the standards in this area. The Assembly would request the authorities to achieve the conclusion of the Venice Commission on the adopted law and to implement any recommendations contained in this conclusion.
7. The Assembly welcomes progress in the investigation, and again call on the authorities to conduct a full investigation into the violence and deaths during Euromaidan, as well as events around the house of trade unions in Odessa in accordance with the recommendations of the International Advisory group of the Council of Europe.
8. According to the Assembly, the constitutional reform process should not be limited to decentralization and the judiciary, but also to solutions in other areas where weakness has been observed, including in connection with the separation of powers.
9. The Assembly expresses its concern about the human rights issues that were raised in connection with the lustration Law. Thus, urges the Verkhovna Rada to promptly adopt amendments to this law, which was prepared in cooperation with the Venice Commission in order to solve these problems and to seek additional measures to ensure that all recommendations in the final opinion of the Venice Commission, reflected in the law and that the implementation of the law is in full conformity with European standards.
10. According to the Assembly, endemic corruption in Ukraine continues to be a major point of concern. The long absence of Express and specific progress in this area, including in relation to prosecutions and convictions have the potential to reduce the consequences of major reforms of the authorities and, ultimately, undermines public confidence in the political and judicial system as a whole. In this regard, the Assembly is concerned that the pace of the fight against corruption are too slow, and results are too limited. In addition, it reiterated its concern with the intertwining of political and economic interests in the political atmosphere in the country affecting public opinion and may hinder the fight against corruption. The Assembly therefore welcomes the creation of the basic institutional framework for fighting corruption in the country and expects to see tangible and concrete results, including in relation to prosecutions and convictions. In particular, the Assembly:
- 10.1. welcomes the introduction of electronic Declaration system and encourages the authorities to ensure that the National Agency on corruption prevention had the necessary resources to audit returns;
- 10.2. calls on the authorities to ensure that the specialized anti-corruption Prosecutor will have sufficient resources to perform its tasks, including the opening of offices in all regions of the country;
- 10.3. calls on the authorities to create a special anti-corruption court to combat corruption in the judiciary, which is essential for the success of the fight against corruption in General;
- 10.4. welcomes the adoption of the Law On civil service and calls on the authorities to ensure the speedy enactment of all regulations.
11. The Assembly repeats its call for the adoption of a unified Electoral code, which introduces a proportional election system and complies with European standards. The Assembly expresses its concern at the fact that article 81 of the Constitution of Ukraine allows the exclusion of a member of Parliament who changes his loyalty to party or faction, from which he was elected. It is contrary to European standards, this constitutional article should be modified in the context of the ongoing constitutional reform. For the same reasons, the Assembly calls on the Parliament to repeal recent amendments to the law On elections of people’s deputies, which allow political parties after the fact to change the party lists of candidates.
12. The Assembly noted that the Parliament postponed the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS No. 210, “Istanbul Convention”). She urged the Parliament again to return it to its agenda and to ensure the early ratification of this important document.
13. The Assembly notes that the individual deputies of the Verkhovna Rada appealed to the constitutional court the Law on principles of state language policy, stating the unconstitutionality of some of its provisions, as well as the situation in which it was adopted. The Assembly expresses its concern that some of the projects are aimed at reducing the current rights of national minorities. It is important that in accordance with the legal norms, which propose to change, national minorities could retain the right to use languages of national minorities provided for by the Constitution and international obligations of the country. Emphasizing the importance of continued implementation of a comprehensive policy towards minority languages to the stability in the country, the Assembly calls on the authorities to ensure that, in the case that the law On the state languages will not be revoked by the court, minimum standards for the use of minority languages contained in the law remained.
14. In this regard, the Assembly urges all relevant bodies of the Council of Europe continue to offer Ukraine the necessary expert assistance aimed at the strengthening of democratic institutions, to continue monitoring the situation in Ukraine and around Ukraine and to take all possible measures to force the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations under international law and international obligations to ensure respect for human rights in annexed Crimea, and for the release of all Ukrainian political prisoners and illegally detained persons.
We will remind, earlier people’s Deputy Andrey Lozovoy said that during the voting on the resolution of the PACE in the Ukrainian delegation was split.