Constitutions Ukraine

Briefing Paper 53: Reforming Parliamentary Immunities in Ukraine

The report titled “Reforming parliamentary immunities in Ukraine” co-published by DRI and the Institute of International Relations of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv assesses the model of the parliamentary immunity in Ukraine and current proposal to reform it, considers the pros and cons of the deputies’ inviolability and highlights the European perspective in this regard.

The report draws attention to the ambiguous character of the immunities. Immunities can be abused by deputies to shield corruption and other crimes from prosecution. At the same time they can also serve as powerful protection against undue pressure on the legislator by other branches of power. This protection is not crucial in the countries with “stable and mature democratic institutions, established solid party policy, independent and autonomy judiciary, high level of protection of individual political rights, and guarantees for functioning opposition in parliament” (The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe). Ukraine does not necessarily fulfil conditions that would favour or justify a removal of inviolability, the report concludes.

The report further points out that no international or European obligations on regulating immunities exist, leaving solely for the national legislator to determine the extent of parliamentary immunity.

In addition to assessing the current model of parliamentary immunities and summarising the proposed reform, the paper highlights some of the Venice Commission recommendations to follow while revising inviolability provisions, in particular:

  • To limit the scope of inviolability by the constitution or law (and exclude from the scope liability for “flagrante delicto”, serious criminal offences, minor or administrative offences);
  • To enshrine in law a detailed and clear procedure for lifting inviolability in line with basic procedural principles (clarity, transparency, predictability, non-arbitrariness);
  • To provide clear criteria for speedier and reasoned decisions on lifting immunity (in particular to ensure one single decision on lifting within the same proceedings is sufficient)

Photo: Jose Luis Orihuela / flickr

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