Members of Parliament cast 291 votes for the draft law No. 2237, which should have actually abolished the MPs’ immunity. Instead, Members of Parliament preserved and even strengthened it by making amendments.
According to this draft law, the Prosecutor General receives a monopoly to initiate criminal proceedings against Members of Parliament. That means that only one person in the country can submit information to the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations, which means the dependence of initiation the investigation against Members of Parliament on integrity or busyness of the Prosecutor General.
According to the Criminal Procedure Code, any investigator or prosecutor can initiate the criminal proceeding against the Member of Parliament (before the draft law that MPs voted for today comes into force).
“Members of Parliament haven’t just not stripped the immunity but they have even strengthened it if we compare to what we have today. It would be difficult not only to bring the Member of Parliament to responsibility, but also simply to initiate the investigation”, states the Board Member of the Anti-Corruption Action Center Olena Shcherban.
Another dangerous innovation that MPs have made in amendments is the requirement of mandatory presence of the Member of Parliament during consideration of requests in the court. These requests may relate, for instance, to the seizure of property of suspected Member of Parliament. Accordingly, it will not be possible to arrest this property without warning the Member of Parliament about the court and without his presence during the hearing. Thus, nothing will prevent MPs from registering property to relatives overnight in order to avoid the arrest. Or the investigator will not be able to arrest the bribe received by the Member of Parliament and who was caught red-handed.
At present, the investigating judge may consider such requests in absence of subjects of the case, for instance, if there is a risk of destruction of documents, property or evidence due to the awareness of the Member of Parliament with such request.
We should remind that the Verkhovna Rada approved this draft law in the first reading at the beginning of December. In September, the Verkhovna Rada voted for the removal of immunity in the Constitution, which comes into force on January 1, 2020.