One of Two Bills on Specialised Anti-corruption Prosecutor's Office Meets International Requirements – G7 Ambassadors

Monday, 20 November 2023

Only one of two draft laws strengthening the independence of Ukraine’s Specialised Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) meets international standards, the G7 countries' ambassadors have explained.

"We understand that there are two competing bills registered by different groups of Members of Parliament (No. 10060-1 and No. 10060-2). We believe that bill No. 10060 corresponds to the legislative intention to strengthen SAPO’s institutional autonomy, improve its capacity to regulate organisational activity, and establish mechanisms of discipline and accountability," letter from the G7 ambassadors to Ruslan Stefanchuk, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament), reads.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal registered bill No. 10060 on strengthening SAPO on 15 September.

The ambassadors believe that this draft law improves the procedure by which SAPO’s head and key officials are selected and enhances SAPO’s ability to regulate its organisational activity by making it a separate legal entity; expanding staff and increasing pay; appointing an independent selection committee consisting of international representatives; and preventing information leaks by making non-prosecutor staff fully subordinate to the head of SAPO.

They stressed that bill No. 10060 contains the key elements for the required reforms.

However, the ambassadors – and their respective governments – recommended adding the following elements to demonstrate to the Ukrainian people and the international community, including donor countries and the private sector, that Ukraine is determined to combat corruption and reform the judicial system:

1) Retain the elements of reform and institutional independence stated in bill No. 10060;

2) Grant procedural autonomy to SAPO by adding the following essential elements to the Code of Criminal Procedure:

  • Grant SAPO the right to independently conduct appropriate investigative and procedural actions with respect to special actors – Members of Parliament, judges, and mayors;
  • Introduce legal guarantees to ensure that other law enforcement bodies comply with and do not interfere in the exceptional investigative powers of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine/SAPO;
  • Grant the Deputy Head of SAPO all powers of the Deputy Prosecutor General/Head of SAPO in the latter’s absence;
  • Authorise SAPO to independently consider requests concerning extradition and mutual legal assistance.

3) Create an internal monitoring department within SAPO. This unit must operate independently of the Inspector General of the Prosecutor General’s Office and be responsible for facilitating integrity. Delegate powers to SAPO to administer and execute corresponding decisions and sanctions.

4) Set a reasonable deadline for the Prosecutor General’s appointment of the new Head of SAPO after the independent commission announces the selection results.

5) Abolish the restriction in Ukraine’s Code of Criminal Procedure regarding the time period between a pre-trial investigation and the service of a notice of suspicion in order to prevent cases being prematurely closed.

On 15 November, the G7 ambassadors welcomed the launch of the reform of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court, following the first meeting of the Advisory Group of Experts.

The ambassadors also welcomed the adoption of the law reinstating financial monitoring of so-called politically exposed persons (PEPs) by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

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