The Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Legislative Support of Law Enforcement under the chairmanship of Denys Monastyrskyi decided to amend the draft law regarding amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) due to which the National Anti-Corruption Bureau may not receive the right for independent wiretapping, and the parliamentary immunity will remain valid.
Members of Parliament voted for the amendment, which states that: “The interception of information from transport telecommunication networks is entrusted to the authorized departments of the bodies of the National Police, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the State Bureau of Investigation and security agencies in accordance with the procedure specified by the law”.
It is important to note that the Committee added the invisible at the first glance phrase “in accordance with the procedure specified by the law”. This means that now only one norm of the Criminal Procedure Code will be insufficient for the practical implementation of it. And we will have to wait for the adoption of other respective legal acts that may distort the law.
“In practice this means that no one will comply with these direct norms of the CPC, which provide the “right” to wiretap until the additional law will be adopted. Otherwise, it gives the opportunity to stipulate in by-laws that such NABU’s right can be implemented exclusively through the SBU, for instance”, comments Olena Shcherban, the Board member at the Anti-Corruption Action Center.
It is most likely that such norms that would be adopted in order to implement the law would be secret and the society would not even be able to know how these amendments would be actually implemented.
The withdrawal of actual parliamentary immunity is also blocked, as the Committee “threw away” all respective norms. While these norms will be present in the CPC, the NABU will not be able to make searches and wiretap Members of Parliament without their decision.
According to Monastyrskyi, Members of Parliament must submit separate draft law, by which they will make amendments to the CPC regarding the parliamentary immunity. However, it is not clear when and how it will happen.
“This means that the draft law regarding amendments to the CPC, which keeps the parliamentary immunity, will be sent to the plenary of the Verkhovna Rada. And the NABU will not be able to wiretap and make searches without 226 votes of Members of Parliament. It is obvious that there is no point to conduct such investigative actions after the public voting, and the lifting of immunity from the Constitution was the pork barrel. Because Members of Parliament refused to make the real move even at the level of the Committee”, adds Olena Shcherban.
We should recall that the Verkhovna Rada of the 9th convocation at the first meetings voted for the lifting of immunity from Members of Parliament, which was stipulated in the Constitution. These amendments will come into force on January 1, 2020.
However, Members of Parliament failed amendments to the CPC (#1009) in the first reading.