During their first plenary week of June, MPs plan to consider the amended draft bill on collecting genetic information that has been heavily criticized as potentially dangerous to citizens. Also, the Parliament wants to designate its representatives to a committee for the selection of BES Director, although the Constitution grants it no right to do that.
Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelensky plans to create a “presidential university”, although it is not clear what is the purpose of creating a new university or where it is supposed to get its funding.
Collection of genetic information (4265)
Status: revision before the repeated first reading. MPs can still amend the draft bill.
Who is affected: investigators, prosecutors, judges, criminals, suspects, and servicemen.
Summary of the bill:
- introduces mandatory state registration of genetic information:
- about persons under pretrial detention suspected of intentional grave and special grave criminal offenses against life, health, sexual freedom, or sexual integrity
- about persons convicted and imprisoned for intentional crimes against life, health, sexual freedom, or sexual integrity
- about missing persons
- from unidentified human bodies, body parts, and remains
- with their written consent, genetic information will be collected from soldiers
- genetic information collected from suspects will be stored by the administrator of the genetic information database until the criminal proceeding is closed or the court’s decision to release/acquit the suspect comes into force
- the database will be owned and maintained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and administered by the science and research center under the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
What is wrong:
- MPs have sent the draft bill for revision claiming that it can be dangerously misused. However, the cosponsors of the bill have not amended its most notable shortcomings:
- collection of genetic information from suspects is a tool easy to abuse: investigators will be able to open criminal cases against innocent persons to collect genetic materials and subsequently blackmail them
- the bill proposes to gather information from persons guilty of misdemeanors. For example, illegal medical practice, failure to assist persons in mortal danger, minor assault, battery, threats of homicide, etc. It provides plenty of opportunities for abuse and illegal pressure
the database will be maintained by the agency that is engaged in the process and has its own interest in investigations and their results — the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This conflict of interests will be a danger to human rights protection in Ukraine.
Parliamentary representatives to a committee for the selection of BES Director (5462, 5494)
Status: MPs are preparing to adopt the draft bill.
Who is affected: Ukrainian citizens, businesses, government bodies, local governments, and employees of the Bureau of Economic Security.
Summary of the bill: the Verkhovna Rada delegates the following persons to be members of a committee for the selection of the Bureau of Economic Security Director:
- Liudmyla Rubanenko, representative of the All-Ukrainian NGO Union of Tax Consultants of Ukraine
- Halyna Shevchenko, representative of the National Bar Association of Ukraine
- Oleksiy Ushakov, representative of the NGO Volunteer Movement Common Goal.
Why this is important:
- the Bureau of Economic Security is a newly created central executive body that takes over some of the functions of the former Tax Militia. It will deal with crimes threatening the effective functioning of the state economy, in particular, smuggling and tax crimes
- according to the former head of the State Tax Service and newly appointed Minister of Economy Oleksii Liubchenko, Ukraine loses near $7.7 bln to tax evasion schemes annually
- according to President Volodymyr Zelensky, smuggling costs the government budget ₴300 bln.
What is wrong:
- powers of the Parliament are defined by the Constitution and cannot be extended by regular laws. The Parliament has no authority to delegate its representatives to selection committees, so the results of the competition could be challenged in court, the selection procedure itself — in the Constitutional Court
- the BES Director will be dependent on the President and his team. The selection committee is comprised of representatives delegated by the President himself, the Parliament (where the President has a monomajority), and the Cabinet (loyal to the President). It is impossible under such circumstances to ensure real competition and appoint the worthiest and independent candidate.
Background context: the President has already delegated his representatives to the selection committee.
Creation of Presidential university
Decision-maker: the President.
Who is affected: prospective students, lecturers, professors, the Ministry of Education, and the Cabinet.
Summary of the decree: the Cabinet has received the following orders:
- to process the idea of the “Presidential university” project
- to prepare the its concept with consideration to modern trends in education, science, and technology, effective educational strategies to teach skills of creative thinking and creativeness
- to ensure that the project gets funding and facilities.
Additional information: according to Volodymyr Zelensky, the university will teach specialists in information security, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, aerospace engineering, and biotechnology.
What is wrong:
- the President has no authority to create a university or give an order to the Cabinet to create it. Moreover, such decisions should be made not by presidential orders but as a part of the state policy resulting from comprehensive job market research
- professions listed in the project are already covered by leading Ukrainian universities like Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, Taras Shevchenko National University, Lviv Polytechnic University, Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics, etc.
- it will take a lot of time and money to create a new university. According to the Minister of Education Serhii Shkarlet, it will take three years and ₴7.2 bln to build the university
- as the proposed name of the university and the circumstances of its creation suggest, the decision is not a part of a consistent long-term educational policy.
What’s next: according to the Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk, MPs will soon start working on a draft bill on the Presidential university. The bill will define the university’s structure and address the issue of intellectual property.
Alternative solution: whether to create new universities is a question of a state educational policy. It is a job of the Ministry of Education to make the appropriate plans and projections. A decision to create a new university has to be justified by market research, the need of the market, and the proven lack of capacity of the existing universities of Ukraine to fulfill this need.
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