The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has passed the presidential draft law "On the High Anti-Corruption Court" (No. 7440) in the second reading.
Some 315 MPs voted for the decision.
The draft law establishes that the High Anti-Corruption Court is a permanently acting higher specialized court in the system of Ukraine's judiciary; it will be located in Kyiv. The court's jurisdiction is applicable to the entire territory of Ukraine.
On March 1, Ukrainian lawmakers backed the draft law "On the High Anti-Corruption Court" (No. 7440) in the first reading, which was submitted by President Petro Poroshenko. After that, a number of international partners of Ukraine criticized the document and raised requirements for Kyiv. In particular, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said that Poroshenko's draft on the Anti-Corruption Court contradicted Ukraine's commitments. In addition, the World Bank put forward its demands, having warned that the point at issue was $800 million in its loan funds. The European Union also criticized the Administration of the President of Ukraine, saying that Poroshenko had submitted a bill on the Anti-Corruption Court, which contradicts the promises of Kyiv and the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
One of the most important uncoordinated moments in the draft law was the norm on the authority of the Public Council of International Experts on the selection of judges of this court. The key claim of international partners and non-government organizations as for the draft law was the limitation of the role of international experts to advisory functions in the process of selection and appointment of judges. According to international partners, including the International Monetary Fund, the full role of international experts in appointing judges is a guarantee of the independence of this court and its ability to effectively perform its functions.
The point at issue
The creation of the Anti-Corruption Court in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission is one of the conditions for continued cooperation between Ukraine and the IMF, which is necessary to repay the country's external debts in the coming years. According to Atlantic Council expert Anders Aslund, the termination of cooperation between Ukraine and the IMF will lead to a significant devaluation of the hryvnia. On June 5, the U.S. State Department emphasized that the law on the High Anti-Corruption Court in Ukraine should meet the requirements of the International Monetary Fund and provide for the selection of qualified judges with the participation of international experts. Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Danyliuk earlier said that the parliament's failure to pass the Anti-Corruption Court law this Thursday, June 7, might postpone the vote in the European Parliament for providing EUR 1 billion in macro-financial assistance from the European Union to Ukraine.
On June 6, ambassadors of the G7 countries (the United States, the UK, Canada, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan) emphasized that international experts should play a central role in the selection of qualified judges after the establishment of the High Anti-Corruption Court in Ukraine.
The G7 ambassadors called on the Verkhovna Rada to adopt a law to create an independent High Anti-Corruption Court that will be trusted by citizens.
As many as 1,927 amendments
On May 23, the parliament began consideration of the bill in the second reading. In total, 1,927 amendments were submitted. The provisions of the bill concerning to the Public Council of International Experts remained unattended until the last minute. During most of the days of the consideration of the amendments, there were fewer lawmakers present in the session hall. In particular, only about 50 lawmakers were present at the end of the meeting. At least 226 votes are required for decision making. However, on June 6, the Verkhovna Rada completed the consideration of amendments to the presidential bill, and Poroshenko arrived at the session hall after the consideration of the amendments.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman earlier said that he would resign if the law on the Anti-Corruption Court were not passed. "If this court – fair and independent – is not be created, I will step down," he warned.