‘Stop mask shows law’ seen as long over­due

Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly - - Contents -

Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko on Dec. 1 signed a long-over­due law to re­duce pres­sure on busi­ness from law en­force­ment. The law came into force on Dec. 7. In­for­mally, it's known as the "Busi­ness pres­sure re­lief law" or the "Stop mask shows law," re­fer­ring to heavy­handed raids by masked po­lice of­fi­cers who some­times seized ev­ery­thing in sight.

In Oc­to­ber, Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­eral Yuriy Lut­senko signed a let­ter of un­der­stand­ing with busi­nesses on how of­fice searches should be con­ducted. On Nov. 10, the cab­i­net sub­mit­ted to par­lia­ment a draft law to pro­tect busi­nesses from un­jus­ti­fied and il­le­gal searches. On Nov. 16, par­lia­ment passed the law quickly.

The new law re­quires in­ves­ti­ga­tors to video record their ac­tions. Those searched can also record. Video record­ing will go into ef­fect on Jan. 1, 2019. Searches can only be car­ried out un­der a court war­rant, with lawyers present. In­ves­ti­ga­tors are mostly pro­hib­ited from seiz­ing orig­i­nal doc­u­ments or hard­ware and may only make copies of data, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of a tech­ni­cal ex­pert. The law also for­bids the re­open­ing of cases. Three re­ac­tions: “It could be a nice tool — pro­vided the law is en­forced cor­rectly. Ukraine has a lot of good laws, but the rule of law is still miss­ing. That is why we’ll need to mon­i­tor how the law is ap­plied in prac­tice, and if there are any prob­lems, raise a flag. At this stage, it’s re­ally help­ful to have con­struc­tive pro­fes­sional relations with the state pros­e­cu­tor and his of­fice, and the Security Ser­vice of Ukraine… We’re look­ing for the rule of law and equal treat­ment. That is why ju­di­cial re­form is some­thing that we’re re­ally look­ing for. It can be a good ba­sis to fight cor­rup­tion and re­store jus­tice… We face quite a range of is­sues, but raider at­tacks ap­pear rarely. More of­ten com­pa­nies com­plain about tax in­spec­tions, get­ting per­mits, pres­sure from law en­force­ment agen­cies…” “On the one hand, it will take time for the busi­ness com­mu­nity to as­sess whether (the law) is func­tion­ing prop­erly. On the other hand, what busi­ness needs to see is how these amend­ments are im­ple­mented in prac­tice. One thing we can say for sure is that in­vestors need to see pre­dictabil­ity, trans­parency and rule of law.” “This law was based on the rec­om­men­da­tions of our sys­temic re­port… I strongly be­lieve that these changes are ex­tremely im­por­tant… This should work as a pre­ven­tive mech­a­nism, be­cause when ev­ery­thing is video­taped — start­ing from the de­ci­sion of the in­ves­tiga­tive judge un­til the fi­nal steps of crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings — it should im­pose much more dis­ci­pline on law en­forcers. To­day it is still too early of course to say how well it will work.”

Anna Derevyanko, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor at Euro­pean Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, 960 mem­bers

Andy Hun­der, pres­i­dent of Amer­i­can Cham­ber of Com­merce in Ukraine, 600 mem­bers

Al­gir­das Semeta, head of the Busi­ness Om­buds­man Coun­cil in Ukraine

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