Chief justice is convinced the Constitutional Court needs a reboot.Photo from UNIAN, Viacheslav Ratynskyi
Justice Minister Denys Maliuska has named three ways to resolve the “constitutional crisis” caused by the Constitutional Court’s ruling to repeal criminal liability for inaccurate asset declaration.
“The exit has three stages,” Maliuska said, speaking at the Svoboda Slova [Freedom of Speech] panel show hosted by Savik Shuster on Friday.
According to Maliuska, the first stage has already been implemented after the Cabinet passed order that “neutralized the most significant blows inflicted on the anti-corruption mechanism.”
Thus, public access was restored to the national register of electronic declarations of officials’ assets and income, while the National Agency on Corruption Prevention has resumed special vetting routine and regained access to all databases required to this end.
“But there is a third and most important issue, which in fact is now being hotly debated. This is the problem of loss of confidence in the CCU judges,” the justice chief emphasized.
“As it became clear from today’s press conferences (by CCU judges), no one really hides that the court’s ruling was handed down guided by personal motives, in particular, the conflict between the judges and the NACP. The judges tried to defend themselves, Due to this, the judges acted quickly and efficiently, despite difficulties that arose along the way,” Maliuska said.
He added that the CCU judges “had started to abuse power,” assuming the powers of the Verkhovna Rada, “claiming that criminal liability for inaccurate asset declaration is excessive…”
“It’s Parliament that decides whether it’s excessive or unintentional, whether a person should be brought to criminal responsibility,” he said.
The minister also said that the CCU judges, when considering the motion tabled by lawmakers, assumed the applicants’ powers and ruled unconstitutional certain provisions of law, which had not even been challenged.
“All this created an atmosphere of distrust, so something must be done about it. And the key thing here is that none of those who had drafted the Constitution assumed that at some point the Constitutional Court might start acting indecently,” Maliuska said.
He said that no one had envisaged a mechanism for disciplinary control over the Constitutional Court and sanctions against CCU judges.
“The President has set an ambitious goal – he wants to have an open, transparent, and fair Constitutional Court, so a reboot could be a tool to achieve this,” Maliuska said.
Constitutional Court’s controversial ruling on inaccurate asset declaration: Facts
On October 27, the CCU, on the motion of 47 legislators, handed down a judgment rescinding Article 366-1 of the Criminal Code, which provides for liability for inaccurate asset declaration by government officials.
Also, the CCU recognized the provisions of the laws on e-declarations’ vetting as unconstitutional and stripped the relevant watchdog, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention of powers to vet declarations and identify conflicts of interest.
The CCU deprived the NACP of access to state registers required for vetting declarations of candidates for government offices, thus blocking the appointment of officials, including those who won in the latest local elections across Ukraine.
The NABU said that as a result of the CCU move, all criminal cases probing inaccurate asset declaration shall be closed, while officials exposed for abuse will avoid responsibility.
On October 28, pursuant to the CCU ruling, the NACP shut down public access to the Unified State Register of Asset Declarations, which was restored overnight Friday in line with the Cabinet decision following public outrage.
On October 29, President Volodymyr Zelensky at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council issued instructions to immediately table a bill in parliament that provides for the restoration of the integrity of legal proceedings in the Constitutional Court.
Later the same day, Zelensky submitted to Parliament a draft law, offering an early termination of powers of the Constitutional Court’s entire composition.