Ukrainian Constitutional Court Cancels Asset Declarations for Activists

On June 6, 2019 the Constitutional Court of Ukraine rendered the asset declaration for activists unconstitutional. This is a crucial development and means that the discriminatory provisions introduced in 2017, which required anti-corruption activists to publicly disclose information about their property and assets, are no longer in force in Ukraine.

This victory is a result of a relentless, two-year advocacy campaign led by Ukrainian civil society. CSOs activated their networks, built coalitions within their own sector, but also with the members of the Parliament and the media, and reached out to international partners. Doing so, they aimed to convince public authorities and politicians that the law contradicts international law and best practices as well as Ukraine’s constitution.

Despite all these efforts, the law remained in force and activists had to file asset declarations by April 1, 2018. After all other measures for repealing the law failed to bring results, one of the biggest coalitions of CSOs – Reanimation Package of Reforms (RPR) – joined forces with 65 Members of Parliament, and submitted an appeal to the Constitutional Court. ECNL’s local partner, the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) was among CSOs drafting the appeal. UCIPR also submitted a legal opinion to the Court – this built partly on the legal analysis prepared by ICNL outlining why the provisions fail to comply with international standards.

The Court finally recognized the asset declarations for activists as unconstitutional this June. The Court Decision allows civil society activists who filed asset declarations to demand authorities to remove all their personal data from the e-declaration system. In its Decision, the Court ruled that “measures of financial control over the activities of associations of citizens and their members who do not exercise public authority or are not financed at the expense of the State Budget of Ukraine or local budgets may not be excessive and such, which disproportionately restrict freedom of political and public activity, undermine the essence of the right of citizens to freedom of association”.

For a detailed background on the e-declaration for activists, read the article from Mariya Heletiy, UCIPR Deputy Project Director.

Over the years ECNL experts have worked with UCIPR and provided assistance on various issues, including CSO reporting, state funding, or access to foreign funding with the support from donors DANIDA and USAID. Currently, ECNL works with UCIPR on the CSO Meter project, funded by the European Union, piloting a new tool to assess civil society environment in the Eastern Partnership countries. The CSO Meter will also cover anti-corruption laws assessing if such measures infringe the rights of CSOs or their employees and donors. To learn more about the CSO Meter, click here.