Last week MPs due to procedural complications were able to adopt not that many laws. Instead, they used the opportunity to submit draft bills to address the pressing problems. That includes the following: a new procedure for international travel for children, penalties for MPs insulting journalists, and access restrictions on visits to parliamentary buildings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
To introduce penalties for insulting representatives of mass media (6139)
Cosponsors: Nestor Shufrych (Opposition Platform — For Life faction) and four MPs from the Servant of the People faction.
Who is affected: MPs, representatives of mass media, and journalists.
Summary of the bill:
- the bill will allow journalists and representatives of mass media to submit complaints to the Committee on the Freedom of Speech if an MP insults them on the premises of the Verkhovna Rada
- the Committee on the Freedom of Speech forwards the complaints to the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Parliamentary Ethics, and Administration that can recommend the Parliament to deprive the offender of the right to participate in up to 5 plenary meetings
- the final decision whether to deprive an MP of the right to participate in plenary meetings is made by the Parliament without preliminary deliberations.
What is right: complaints from journalists and the risk of sanctions will give MPs a reason to be more considerate while communicating with journalists and mass media representatives.
What is wrong: since complaints will be processed by two committees, the procedure could take a considerable time.
Alternative solution: to make the Committee on Rules of Procedure responsible for punishing MPs for inappropriate behavior. If only one committee is involved, it will be more effective in preventing incidents damaging the reputation of the Parliament and provoking a negative reaction from society.
To change regulations on international travel for children (6146)
Sponsor: the Cabinet.
Who is affected: parents, children, child protective services, government bodies, the Border Guard Service, and the Customs Service.
Summary of the bill: consent from the second parent to take a child abroad will be obtained much faster, the interests of a child will be taken into account:
- international travel of a child under 16 accompanied by one of the parents will be allowed only with the consent of another parent or without such consent in exceptional cases defined by law
- a parent asked for such consent has to answer within 10 days either by giving the requested permission or providing a written rejection with reasons for rejection
- the consent will not be necessary in the following cases:
- the second parent is dead or declared dead
- parental rights are terminated
- the second parent is a foreigner or a stateless person
- the second parent failed to pay spousal support for more than 3 months total
- there is a court’s decision granting permission for international travel of a child.
The current state of affairs:
- for a short-term (up to one month) international travel, a resident parent decides on the matters at their discretion. For long-term travels, notarized consent of the non-resident parent is required
- if there is no notarized consent, the parent can appeal to the court within ten days with a petition to allow international travel for a child.
Why this is important: in July 2017, the European Court of Human Rights in its decision concerning the case M.S. v. Ukraine indicated that in cases concerning children judges have to make the interests of a child their priority. The same applies to cases on international travel of children.
What is right:
- it will be possible to get consent for international travels for children much faster. For now, the party trying to get the permission is often blackmailed by the other party that demands some benefits for themselves ignoring the interests of the child
- child’s interests are prioritized over parents’ quarrels.
What is wrong: it is not unheard of in Ukraine for one of the parents to take children abroad for permanent residency ignoring the law and interests of the second parent. The Cabinet and MPs have to include restrictions preventing such situations.
To introduce measures preventing the spread of the coronavirus in the Verkhovna Rada (6154)
Cosponsors: 45 MPs with Mykhailo Radutskyi (Servant of the People faction) as the first signatory.
Who is affected: MPs, their assistants, employees of the apparatus, members of the Cabinet, representatives of central executive bodies, government bodies, and local governments, and journalists.
Summary of the bill: the bill proposes to restrict access to administrative buildings of the Verkhovna Rada for MPs, their assistants, employees of the apparatus, members of the Cabinet, representatives of central executive bodies, government bodies, and local governments, and journalists. Access will be granted only for those having one of the following documents:
- Ukrainian COVID-19 vaccination certificate
- foreign COVID-19 vaccination certificate
- negative PCR-test result (conducted within 72 hours before the plenary meeting) or negative rapid antigen test (conducted within 48 hours)
- certificate of recovery from the coronavirus issued by a doctor confirming that the person recovered from COVID-19 within 6 past months.
What is right: MPs are trying to counter the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
What is wrong: the Constitution does not grant the Parliament the authority to impose requirements for MPs to be allowed to attend meetings and premises even in case of a pandemic. If such restrictions will be introduced, they can be abused in the future by the parliamentary majority to prevent its opponents from attending parliamentary meetings. As a result, the opposition or particular MPs could be effectively removed from working in the Verkhovna Rada.
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