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Foreign panel members slam delay in selection of anti-graft prosecutor

December 3, 2021 12:21 amby TheKyivIndependent
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Members of the anti-corruption prosecutor selection panel meet at the Prosecutor General's Office on Oct. 5, 2020. (gp.gov.ua)

Editor’s Note: The seat of Ukraine’s anti-corruption prosecutor has been vacant since August 2020. Watchdogs blame officials for delaying and sabotaging attempts to choose a new anti-corruption prosecutor. In a comment to the Kyiv Independent on Nov. 22, Katerina Koval, head of the selection panel, blamed the commission’s foreign members for disrupting meetings. The following is the public statement of the panel’s foreign experts that they shared with the Kyiv Independent as their response to the accusation.

We are the four independent experts appointed by the Council of Prosecutors to the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor Selection Commission.  We write with respect to your article of Nov. 22 “Why is Ukraine still missing a chief anti-corruption prosecutor?” The article states that “In a comment to the Kyiv Independent, Katerina Koval, head of the selection panel, blamed foreign experts for disrupting panel meetings.”

Mrs. Koval’s statement is not true. None of the meetings were postponed due to the absence of foreign experts. To the contrary, all four of us have served diligently, without pay, to the detriment of our regular jobs and personal lives, for 14 months simply because we are committed to the cause of anti-corruption in Ukraine. While it has not been possible for each of us to attend every meeting, we have always endeavored to ensure that at least two of us are able to attend so that a quorum can be constituted.  

We have participated actively and professionally in the meetings, raising substantive points as we see appropriate, and have always treated all other Commission members with respect. The Commission meetings have been broadcast live and are available to the public. 

We would ask Mrs. Koval, or anyone else who contends that any one of us has disrupted any meetings, to identify with specificity those acts which she considers disruptive. Absent such evidence, the three foreign experts among us would ask for a public apology and retraction of her statement.

The selection process has been delayed. This is unfortunate as it sets back the cause of reform in Ukraine. But this delay has occurred despite our participation, not because of our participation. We have repeatedly urged the Commission to proceed with, and conclude the selection process and have raised our concerns about the undue delay in the selection process with the Prosecutor General. 

Read more: G7 urges Ukraine not to sabotage selection of anti-corruption prosecutor

In a meeting on Nov. 25, Ms. Koval stated that the selection process could not proceed because she had not received scores on the practical tasks from any of the Commission members. In response, all four of us promptly completed our scoring of the practical tasks.  We appeared at a scheduled meeting on Dec. 2 prepared to announce our scores.  

However, the meeting was suddenly canceled due to the alleged absence of a quorum despite the fact that a sufficient number of Commission members had appeared (or stated that they would appear shortly) to have a quorum. Given the fact that the meeting did not take place, we plan to share our scores publicly in order to prevent any further delay in the process.     

We hope that Mrs. Koval will contribute to the worthwhile goal of successfully concluding the process, rather than disseminating misinformation

Thomas Firestone, Drago Kos, Roman Kuybida, Nona Tsotsoria