A new National Agency for Prevention of Corruption (the Agency) will be established this year according to the new Law on Corruption Prevention and will deal with verification of asset declarations of public cervants, management of conflict of interests anbd other integrity issues in the public service. It will be composed of 5 experts to be selected by an independent Selection Commission. However, independence of this Selection Commission has already been undermined by the Government decision.
According to the Law on Prevention of Corruption, four members of the Selection Commission should be chosen by NGOs with experience in the anti-corruption area, other four should represent the Parliament, Government, President and National Agency on Civil Service. On 17 May, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in accordance with its own regulations organized a meeting of NGOs to select their quota in the Selection Commission. This meeting was organized with manipulations and in violation of the Law. Specifically, Deputy Minister of the Government, who was responsible for organizing the meeting, failed to ensure that participating NGOs had relevant (or any at all) anti-corruption experience, as required by Article 5 of the Law. The delegates from 45 NGOs, most of which have no anti-corruption experience took part in the voting which appeared to be well orchestrated. Members were elected without any prior discussion, they are not known as public figures or experts of any anti-corruption NGOs.
To date, the Government’s Secretariat has failed to provide full access to the documents submitted by the participating NGOs that could prove that they indeed had any anti-corruption experience. Civic activists suspect that the elected four members of the Commission could be loyal to the current Government and Prime Minister which will result in a politically biased activity of the Agency.
On 4 June 2015 Transparency International Ukraine filed a lawsuit against the Government demanding revocation of the NGO meeting results and reconvening it according to the legal requirements.
Regardless of the pending lawsuit and concerns raised by the civil society, on 5 June 2015 the Cabinet of Ministers approved a composition of the Selection Commission at its extraordinary meeting. Before this, the Government amended its own previous decision that required to have all 8 members of the Selection Commission before the Government could formally endorse its composition. Government decided that 6 members should be enough to form the commission. This means that the Commission will not include representative of the parliament, who has not been elected so far.
Anticorruption Action Centre, Reanimation Reform Package, Transparency International Ukraine, Centre of Political Studies and Analytics are calling the Cabinet of Ministers to cancel its decision of 5 June 2015 on the establishment of the Selection Commission for the Agency, organize a new meeting of the NGOs ensuring verification of the anti-corruption profile of the participating organisations. Afterwards a new legitimate decision on the composition of the Selection Commission should be taken.
We truly believe that this is the only credible way to ensure independence of the Agency, which is tasked, inter alia, with setting up an important system of asset declarations verification, required by the IMF, the EU and the World Bank as a key condition for financial support of Ukraine.