‘Stop mask shows law’ seen as long overdue
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