Tiger Con­fer­ence ex­perts to tackle rule of law is­sue

Kyiv Post - - News - Ed­i­tor’s Note: The Kyiv Post’s fourth Tiger Con­fer­ence takes place on Dec. 2 in the Hil­ton Kyiv ho­tel. This year’s theme is: “Ukraine: Cre­at­ing The New So­cial Con­tract.” For ticket in­for­ma­tion, please go to: http://tiger.kyiv­post.com/. BY OLEG SUKHOV RE

An over­haul of Ukraine’s cor­rupt and po­lit­i­cally sub­servient law en­force­ment sys­tem will be the fo­cus of the rule of law panel at the Kyiv Post’s fourth an­nual Tiger Con­fer­ence.

The theme of the day-long event is “Ukraine: Cre­at­ing the New So­cial Con­tract.” It takes place on Dec. 2 at the Hil­ton Kyiv ho­tel and will also fea­ture pan­els on lead­er­ship, econ­omy and en­ergy.

“Judges, pros­e­cu­tors and po­lice of­fi­cers should raise no doubts on in­tegrity,” Vir­gili­jus Valan­cius, a con­fer­ence speaker and pres­i­dent of Lithua­nia’s Supreme Ad­min­is­tra­tive Court, told the Kyiv Post. “Oth­er­wise, the jus­tice sys­tem will not be sup­ported by gen­eral pub­lic. With­out pub­lic con­fi­dence any jus­tice sys­tem would face smaller or big­ger prob­lems.”

A new so­cial con­tract that would usher in an in­de­pen­dent and ef­fec­tive law en­force­ment sys­tem and re­store trust be­tween gov­ern­ment and so­ci­ety is badly needed.

Cur­rently, judges, pros­e­cu­tors and po­lice are mostly in­ca­pable of pun­ish­ing cor­rup­tion and top-level crime and among the most dis­trusted pub­lic of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to polls.

Ukraine has made some progress in rule of law since the Euro­Maidan Revo­lu­tion that drove Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych from power.

At least that is the view of Daniel Bi­lak, the moder­a­tor of the rule of law panel and man­ag­ing part­ner of the Kyiv of­fice of CMS Cameron McKenna.

“We’re win­ning cases in court that we never used to win be­fore,” Bi­lak said. “The ju­di­ciary has started to re­al­ize that they don’t have that much po­lit­i­cal cover any­more and started to ap­ply the law more and more.”

But there is a lot more to be done, Bi­lak said.

One of the most cru­cial steps is to start a gen­uine crack­down on cor­rup­tion, which could be done “through trans­parency, when you shine light in dark cor­ners,” he said. “But fun­da­men­tally, you have to start pun­ish­ing peo­ple. There is a cul­ture of im­punity in this coun­try. Ar­rest­ing peo­ple and let­ting them out on bail sends a wrong mes­sage, and pun­ish­ments for cor­rup­tion are not strong enough.”

An­other prob­lem is that anti-cor­rup­tion rhetoric is used as a ve­neer for po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated vendet­tas.

“The prob­lem with anti-cor­rup­tion bu­reaus is that they all end up be­ing in­stru­ments for peo­ple in power to go af­ter their po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents,” Bi­lak said.

To make anti-cor­rup­tion ef­forts mean­ing­ful, Ukraine has to have pro­fes­sional, hon­est and in­de­pen­dent judges, ex­perts say. But Ukrainian au­thor­i­ties have been drag­ging their feet on court re­form.

Bi­lak said he sup­ports a pro­posal to sus­pend all judges and make them re-ap­ply for their po­si­tions and be tested for their knowl­edge and checked for their record.

Valan­cius’ vi­sion of ju­di­cial re­form is that “judges should be really in­de­pen­dent but at the same time ac­count­able to bod­ies that raise no doubt of in­de­pen­dence as well.”

“The se­lec­tion and ap­point­ment of judges should be based on ob­jec­tive, per-es­tab­lished and trans­par­ent cri­te­ria, free from any out­side, be it po­lit­i­cal or any other pres­sure,” Valan­cius said.

An­other pil­lar of the law en­force­ment sys­tem – pros­e­cu­tors – is slowly un­der­go­ing an over­haul that en­vis­ages cut­ting staff and hir­ing new pros­e­cu­tors in a trans­par­ent and com­pet­i­tive process.

How­ever, crit­ics say the re­sis­tance is fierce and fear the old cor­rupt pros­e­cu­to­rial sys­tem will be kept in place.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Ra­dio Lib­erty in­ves­ti­ga­tion, only in­cum­bent dis­trict pros­e­cu­tors have been rec­om­mended for the po­si­tions of chief lo­cal pros­e­cu­tors in two re­gions of Ch­erni­hiv Oblast.

Bi­lak said that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pros­e­cu­to­rial and other re­forms “needs to be cred­i­ble.”

“You can pro­fane any process if you don’t have good will and de­cent in­ten­tions,” Bi­lak said. “That’s how re­forms have been done over the past 20 years. We had lots of re­forms, just none of them was im­ple­mented.”

The fol­low­ing are snap­shots of con­fer­ence speak­ers on the rule of law panel. Cana­dian- born

Daniel Bi­lak, 55, is the man­ag­ing part­ner of the Kyiv of­fice of CMS Cameron McKenna, a Bri­tish law firm. Be­tween 1995 and 2006, he was a se­nior United Na­tions De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram gov­er­nance ex­pert, pro­vid­ing ad­vice on ad­min­is­tra­tive and le­gal re­form to the Ukrainian gov­ern­ment.

Ge­or­gian­born Davit

Sak­vare­lidze, 34, is a deputy pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral and chief pros­e­cu­tor of Odesa Oblast. He is in charge of Ukraine’s on­go­ing pros­e­cu­to­rial re­form, which en­vis­ages hir­ing new pros­e­cu­tors in a com­pet­i­tive and trans­par­ent process, and heads the Gen­eral In­spec­tion Ser­vice, which in­ves­ti­gates pros­e­cu­tors’ crimes.

Sak­vare­lidze was also in­volved in pros­e­cu­to­rial re­form in Ge­or­gia, where he was first deputy pros­e­cu­tor gen­eral in 2008-2012.

He has a law de­gree from Ge­or­gia’s Tbil­isi State Univer­sity, a po­lit­i­cal sci- ence de­gree from New York State’s St. Bon­aven­ture Univer­sity and a pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion de­gree from Ja­pan’s Toyo Univer­sity. Ok­sana Sy­roid, 39, is a deputy speaker of the Verkhovna Rada and a mem­ber of the Samopomich fac­tion. Sy­roid, who is also an ex­pert of the Re­an­i­ma­tion Pack­age of Re­forms, was born in Lviv Oblast and has a law de­gree from the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa. Be­fore be­ing elected to par­lia­ment last year, she had worked as a lawyer in Ukraine and Canada.

Vir­gili­jus Valan­cius, 52, is head of “Sup­port to Jus­tice Sec­tor Re­forms in Ukraine,” an EU project to help the coun­try to over­haul its law en­force­ment sys­tem. Valan­cius, a pro­fes­sor at Myko­las Romeris Univer­sity in Vil­nius, was pres­i­dent of Lithua­nia’s Supreme Ad­min­is­tra­tive Court from 2002 to 2008. Bo­hdan Poshva, 56, is a jus­tice of Ukraine’s Supreme Court. Born in Ternopil Oblast, he grad­u­ated in 1988 from Lviv State Univer­sity with a law de­gree. Pre­vi­ously he had worked as a lo­cal judge in Ternopil Oblast.

Ex-Jus­tice Min­is­ter Olena Lukash, a sus­pect in an em­bez­zle­ment case, at a hear­ing at Kyiv’s Pech­ersk Court on Nov. 6. (UNIAN)

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