Taking into consideration publicly announced intentions to consider lifting immunity of MPs on the very first day of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of IX convocation, Civil Network OPORA calls on newly-elected MPs of Ukraine to take this matter responsibly and with consideration of international standards. Decisions based on the popularity of pre-election promises can significantly weaken the institutional capacity of Parliament and independence of MPs.
According to the recommendations of reputable international organizations, particularly the Venice Commission, it's necessary to consider the level of the rule of law when deciding on parliamentary immunity.
A complete abolition of parliamentary immunity can be dangerous for parliament's functioning and autonomy in countries with fragile democracy and widespread corruption practices. Unfortunately, Ukraine is still one of such countries. Therefore, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is obliged to prevent any hazards of pressure upon MPs or their persecution for political reasons.
The Venice Commission noted in its 2015 opinion that the rule of law in Ukraine does not allow a full abolition of parliamentary immunity. This Commission recommended Ukraine to use alternative mechanisms allowing to prevent interference in parliamentary activities and combat corruption simultaneously.
OPORA calls on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine work on limitation of parliamentary immunity, and refuse from a risky path of its complete lifting.
The immunity has many sides and can be lifted only partially, but it's vitally important to guarantee that an MP has the full capacity to take any decision not fearing to become a subject of politically motivated harassment. Instead, in case a criminal offense is in question, it's possible to simplify the procedure of investigation and serving notices of suspicion, to avoid immunity equaling impunity.
It is also important that new MPs learn the topic themselves and take a well-thought decision on hazards of the lifted parliamentary immunity.
We urge MPs of the IX convocation to focus on deeper transformations, which are included in the Road Map of Reforms, and on increasing the institutional capacity of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. This map of reforms was prepared by the European Parliament's Needs Assessment Mission in early 2016, and it is a comprehensive response to problems in Parliament's work.
The new parliament requires systematic decisions, not the hasty ones.