Thursday, March 8, 2018

AN APPEAL FOR DECISIVE ACTION IN UKRAINE’S FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION FROM THE FRIENDS OF UKRAINE NETWORK


An Appeal for Decisive Action in Ukraine’s Fight Against Corruption
The American Friends of Ukraine Network (FOUN) adds its voice to the many Ukrainian citizens and civil society organizations calling for decisive action in the fight against corruption in 2018.  We recognize the significant challenges posed by the existential threat of ongoing Russian aggression.  We applaud that Ukraine has done more on reform in many sectors over the last four years than in the previous two decades, but it needs to show greater leadership, effort and commitment to combat the pervasive, long-standing corruption that exists and has existed in public and private life. This was a principal demand of the Maidan Revolution of Dignity, and surveys show this remains a top priority of the people of Ukraine.

While new anti-corruption institutions, including the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) and the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP), have been put in place, this architecture is incomplete, the work of existing institutions is being obstructed and anti-corruption activists are unfairly being targeted and persecuted.
FOUN recognizes that in order to properly combat corruption and advance real reforms many actions need to be taken by the Ukrainian government. Several reforms have been identified as critical by respected civil society organizations and anti-corruption activists inside Ukraine as well as Ukraine’s international partners. We strongly urge the Verkhovna Rada and the Ukrainian government to take immediate and urgent action on the following priorities:
  1. A specialized and independent anti-corruption court of the highest integrity must be created and be fully in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission and conditions of the IMF program. The inability of the existing judiciary to deliver speedy, fair and impartial decisions on any high-level case of corruption or prosecute the more than 100 cases sent forward by NABU and SAPO demonstrates the need for such a body. This is the missing link in the investigative and prosecutorial chain of such cases. Previous drafts of a proposed law before the Rada have not met the Venice Commission and IMF commitments.
  1. The Ukrainian government and its agencies must support and not undermine the work of and end the politically motivated attacks on NABU and SAPO. The government needs to provide both with the authorities, resources and independence to carry out their missions.
  1. The launch of an electronic asset declaration system for Ukrainian officials was an important step in the fight against corruption. However, the NACP lacks the independence and capacity to review and verify these declarations. NACP needs to be reformed and new leadership is needed to provide full and effective control in reviewing and verifying the assets of Ukrainian officials.
  1. Government attempts to control and punish anti-corruption activists must end and the controversial clause in the existing anti-corruption law requiring individuals and organizations engaged in anti-corruption activities to file yearly asset declarations must be rescinded.
  1. Some government officials and Rada members have abused existing legislation on immunity. Immunity should be removed or limited in ways to allow legitimate criminal prosecutions, particularly in cases of corruption, to proceed.
Presidential and parliamentary elections will take place in Ukraine in 2019. Politicians should not see these as an excuse to delay or compromise advancing these and other reforms. The Ukrainian electorate expects action and will hold politicians accountable for a failure of progress.
Reform of the electoral system, including campaign finance reform, will also be needed in the run-up to the 2019 elections. Civil society organizations have made a number of comprehensive proposals and the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), its premier election monitoring organization, has also made recommendations. Ukrainian officials must work closely with ODIHR in the months ahead to create the broad conditions for free and fair elections. Timely composition of a new, strengthened and independent Central Electoral Commission should be a priority.
The American Friends of Ukraine Network stands committed to an independent, democratic and sovereign Ukraine integrated into the wider Euro-Atlantic Community. We fully understand that Ukraine is dealing with extraordinary challenges, first and foremost, Russia’s ongoing aggression. However just as important to Ukraine’s future is success in the internal war against corruption which is critical to fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the Maidan Revolution of Dignity.
Endorsed by:
Anders Aslund, Atlantic Council
Stephen Blank, American Foreign Policy Council
Ambassador Clifford Bond, former Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Ukraine at U.S. Embassy in Kyiv; former U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ian J. Brzezinski, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy
Michael Carpenter, Senior Director, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia
Edward C. Chow, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Orest Deychakiwsky, former Policy Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission
Jim Gerlach, Member of Congress (2003-2015)
Paul Goble, former U.S. government advisor on nations of the former Soviet Union; Analyst at Window on Eurasia
Dennis Hertel, Member of Congress (1981-1993)
Donald Jensen, Center for European Policy Analysis
Adrian Karmazyn, former Ukrainian Service Chief, Voice of America
Jonathan Katz, former Deputy Assistant Administrator, Europe and Eurasia Bureau, USAID
David J. Kramer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Alex Kuzma, Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation
Nadia K. McConnell, President, U.S.-Ukraine Foundation
Robert A. McConnell, McConnell and Associates
Ambassador William Miller, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Jim Moran, Member of Congress (1991-2015)
Ambassador Richard Morningstar, Chairman, Global Energy Center, Atlantic Council; former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union
Ambassador Steven Pifer, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Herman Pirchner, President, American Foreign Policy Council
Ambassador Roman Popadiuk, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Tanya Shea, People of Ukraine Foundation
Ambassador Keith Smith, former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania
Ambassador William Taylor, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine
Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council; former NATO Deputy Secretary General and U.S. Ambassador to Russia, NATO and South Korea
Morgan Williams