On July 13, 2017, when the draft law “On the Constitutional Court of Ukraine” (No. 6427-d) – changing the procedure of electing the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Human Rights Commissioner from secret ballot to open voting – was being considered, MP Olha Chervakova suggested keeping the procedure of secret ballot while electing candidates to the office of the Ombudsman.
The first deputy chair, Iryna Herashchenko, who presided over the meeting, supported the proposal of the MP, saying, in particular: “It was the procedure of electing the Human Rights Commissioner that most of the amendments and today’s speeches concerned. This is the 536th amendment which is also connected with this issue, like so many others today.”
At the same time, both the MP and the chair of the meeting made a mistake in the number of the amendment, having though accurately summed up the content of the proposal that was subsequently endorsed by the majority of MPs. As a result, 227 MPs have voted for the key point of the voiced proposal: i.e. for keeping the procedure of secret ballot while electing candidates to the office of the Human Rights Commissioner.
However, the draft law was submitted for signature to the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada without the actual amendment by Olha Chervakova, i.e. changing the procedure of election of the Human Rights Commissioner from secret ballot to open voting.
The experts of the Reanimation Package of Reforms stress that the process of electing a new Human Rights Commissioner has been too politicized right from the start. It is inadmissible to change the process of electing the Ombudsman from secret ballot to open voting in the mid-process.
Moreover, the very procedure of secret ballot for the Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner guarantees independence of both the MPs during the voting, and of the Ombudsman later at work. It actually ensures the constitutional independence and guarantees of the Commissioner’s activities. Furthermore, this procedure has been reviewed at the UN headquarters in Geneva and received a positive opinion.
The change of the procedure has only one goal: to control the discipline and effectiveness of the voting, which is unacceptable. That is why the Reanimation Package of Reforms, the largest coalition of non-governmental organizations in Ukraine, appeals to the parliament with a demand not to manipulate with the numbers of the amendments. Instead, the parliament should take into account the opinion of most MPs and supplement the text of the draft law to be sent for signature to the President of Ukraine with the proposal of MP Olha Chervakova, supported by 227 votes, concerning the unacceptability of a change of the procedure of voting for the candidates to the office of the Ombudsman of Ukraine from secret ballot to open voting.
If the draft law No. 6427-d is submitted for signature to the President with the amendment changing secret ballot to open voting, the experts of the Reanimation Package of Reforms call on the head of state to veto the law “On the Constitutional Court of Ukraine” (No. 6427- d) in part concerning the procedure of electing the Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Commissioner and send it back to the parliament for finalization.