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Ukraine must enforce its new anti-corruption strategy and legislation

Widespread corruption was one of the main reasons that led to the change of the political regime in Ukraine in 2014. The new administration pledged to fight corruption, a challenging task in the current context of the economic crisis and military conflict in the East of the country.

It has made a major breakthrough in anti-corruption policy, legal and institutional reforms. But it has so far failed to deliver convincing results beyond legal reforms. Ukraine must enforce its new anti-corruption legislation, and bring corrupt officials to justice without delay, says a new OECD report.

The report commends Ukraine for the recent adoption of the anti-corruption strategy and for the reform of its criminal legislation that brought the country into compliance with international anti-corruption standards. It also welcomes the decision to create two anti-corruption bodies – the Corruption Prevention Agency and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau. The report highlights the major role that the civil society played in the reform process.

However, these encouraging steps have not yet been supported by strong enforcement actions. The report raises major concerns about the lack of prosecutions of corrupt members of the former regime, especially those whose assets have been frozen in OECD countries and of corruption spreading in the new government. The report recommends that Ukraine should:

Adopt the action plan for the national anti-corruption strategy that will have clear indicators for measuring performance and ensure that the monitoring of its implementation is based on corruption surveys and inputs by the civil society;
Ensure the independence of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and provide it with all necessary resources to investigate high level corruption crimes;

Establish the Corruption Prevention Agency without delay and build its capacity for effective prevention of corruption in the public administration, in particular by setting up the electronic asset disclosure system for public officials;
Pursue without further delay the reform of civil service in line with the European standards for public administration in order to ensure its professionalism and integrity;

Boost the reform of the judiciary and take measures to ensure the independence and integrity of judges, in particular by revising relevant constitutional provisions;

Introduce legislation on transparent financing of political parties and electoral campaigns, including direct public financing, to limit the influence of private interests over politics and reinforce rules on integrity and corruption prevention for political officials.

Take effective measures to boost the potential of business to contribute to the economic recovery of the country by freeing it from “corruption tax”, political dependencies and dominance of oligarchs.

The report also highlights significant improvement of the legislation regulating conflicts of interest, achievements in determining the strategic directions of the Public Financial Control and Audit reform, major improvements in the legislative frameworks in public procurement and in access to public information. It calls on the government of Ukraine to focus its efforts on the practical implementation of these new legal provisions.

Ukraine and the OECD signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2014 identifying areas for stronger cooperation, including anti-corruption.

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