Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Parliament votes to remove Immunity

Ukraine's Parliament has voted 390 out of 438 taking the first step to amend Ukraine's Constitution and remove parliamentary immunity and limit Presidential immunity.

Under the provisions of Ukraine's current constitution Ukraine's President is the only person who has absolute immunity. Members of parliament currently have the same immunity as that afforded to Judges.

The proposed amendments means that the President can not be arrested or detained without the consent of the parliament. If the president is found guilty of an offense he automatically loses office.

Members of Parliament will no longer  be able to claim immunity from criminal liability.  They can not be arrested or detained without the consent of the parliament or a court order. They can be prosecuted.

The proposed amendment also removes a members of parliaments liability for defamation for actions and statements made within the parliament.  This brings Ukraine's constitutional provisions in line with other western democracies.

This should put an end to the political debate about parliamentary immunity even though not one member of parliament has ever been prevented from being prosecuted.

Viktor Yushchenko has campaigned to have Parliamentary immunity removed but in his proposed constitutional amendments he has retained immunity for Judges and the President.

The proposed amendments will be referred to Ukraine's Constitutional Court for review and will need to be represented to the Parliament for adoption in February 2010.

The main problem with the proposed amendment is that it leaves the President exposed to vexatious litigation. A requirement of 60% or two-thirds of the parliament should be required before the president can be detained or loses office would be better.

An earlier proposal to remove immunity from Ukraine's Parliament only, which did not include the President and Judges, received only 206 votes and as such was defeated.

Extract from Ukraine's current Constitution

Article 80 

People’s Deputies of Ukraine are guaranteed parliamentary immunity. People’s Deputies of Ukraine are not legally liable for the results of voting or for statements made in Parliament and in its bodies, with the exception of liability for insult or defamation. People’s Deputies of Ukraine shall not be held criminally liable, detained or arrested without the consent of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Article 105

The President of Ukraine enjoys the right of immunity during the term of authority.

Article 126

The independence and immunity of judges are guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of Ukraine.
Influencing judges in any manner is prohibited.
A judge shall not be detained or arrested without the consent of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, until a verdict of guilty is rendered by a court.


Andrew said...

Parliament adopts law in first reading cancelling immunity of MPs, president

The Ukrainian Parliament today adopted in the first reading a law on changes to the Constitution of Ukraine on cancellation of immunity from prosecution for MPs and the president of Ukraine. A total of 390 MPs out of the 450-member house voted in favor of draft law No 3251, which was submitted by the Party of Regions. Most of the votes were provided by the Party of Regions (171) and Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc (150), with the remainder coming from the Our Ukraine People’s Self-Defence Bloc (19), Communist Party (27), Lytvyn Bloc (19) and unaffiliated MPs (4). The draft will be sent to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine so that it can rule on its constitutionality.

In accordance with the new law, a Ukrainian MP cannot without the approval of the Ukrainian Parliament “be detained or arrested prior to a guilty verdict adopted by a court regarding him coming into effect”. While prior to adoption of this law the president of Ukraine could be brought to account via the procedure of impeachment, the newly-adopted law states that the powers of the president will be cancelled ahead of time in case of a court convicting the president.

Anonymous said...

Oleksandr Lavrynovych: In Ukrainian Country there must be no Citizen to have Exception in the Laws of Ukraine Implementation

(Press Service of the First Vice-Chairman of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine)

It was declared by the Oleksandr Lavrynovych, the First Vice-Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine form the tribune of the Parliament during the morning sitting, representing the Bill №3251 "The Bill on Amendments to the constitution of Ukraine (re the Immunity Granting for certain officials)." The Bill envisages the withdrawal of the immunity not only from the People´s Deputies but from the President as well.

"The Bill (№3251) is aimed first of all at the equal law for everyone. In Ukrainian Country there must be no citizen to have exception in the Laws of Ukraine implementation", - O. Lavrynovych stressed.

According to him, irrespective of what position the citizen occupies, President of Ukraine or People´s Deputy of Ukraine or working in the Ukrainian court, - requirements and obligations of the Ukrainian laws are compulsory for everyone."

Representing the Bill №3251 O. Lavrynovych explained is norms: "All the high-ranking officials having obligations before the People of Ukraine in the name of the state should be excused only from the being arrested". He specified that: "These people might be arrested under the condition when their guilt is proved and there is accusative judgment, otherwise in case of the necessity that is observed from the course of the investigation. Due to these facts the People´s Deputy, the Judge of Ukraine or the President of Ukraine might be arrested until the sentence is passed after the Verkhovna Rada agreement."

390 People´s Deputies upheld the adjusting of the Bill №3251 "Bill on Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine (re the Guarantee of Immunity for certain Officials)" to the agenda and its further direction to the Constitutional Court.