Important Draft Laws. Issue 12: Video Surveillance to Monitor Everyone, Criminal Liability for Locked Up Shelters, and Funding for Boryspil Airport

Important Draft Laws. Issue 12: Video Surveillance to Monitor Everyone, Criminal Liability for Locked Up Shelters, and Funding for Boryspil Airport

Photo: pexels.com / Scott Webb
12 March 2024
FacebookTwitterTelegram
950

A review of draft laws registered from February 19 to March 3, 2024 

During this period, 39 bills were registered: three presidential (extension of martial law and mobilization), three governmental, and 33 from MPs. The most resonant legislative initiative during this time was lawmakers’ proposal for creating a video monitoring system, which could infringe on citizens’ privacy and potentially lead to misuse of collected personal data. More details on this and other matters are provided below.

Introducing total surveillance of citizens in public places

Bill No. 11031 proposes creating a unified video monitoring system to ensure public order and citizen safety. The video surveillance system would cover various public places and objects, including parks, playgrounds, streets, government buildings, and infrastructure objects.

This system would use biometric data to identify individuals and vehicles depicted in the video. Citizens would have the right to verify whether their data is included in the database of this system, as well as to demand correction or updating of information about themselves. The bill envisages compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The identification of a natural person is based on biometric data and personal information: passport details, digitized facial image, and tax identification number. Identifying a vehicle involves specifying the data in the vehicle registration certificate, passport details, individual tax identification number, and full name and identification code for legal entities.

Regarding the identification of objects, the video monitoring system would be able to exchange information with the Unified State Demographic Register, the Unified Information and Analytical Migration Process Management System, the National System of Biometric Verification and Identification of Citizens of Ukraine, Foreigners, and Stateless Persons, the Unified State Register of Vehicles, and the State Register of Individuals – Taxpayers. 

The bill envisages the creation of three administrative levels for the video monitoring system: the central level would be supervised by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the regional level by regional state administrations, and the local level by local self-government bodies.

Criminal liability for preventing access to shelters

Bill No. 11046 proposes establishing criminal liability for preventing citizens from accessing shelters. The penalty for such actions would be a fine of one thousand non-taxable minimum incomes (UAH 17,000), community service for up to two hundred hours, or corrective labor for up to one year. If preventing citizens from accessing shelters results in bodily harm, the punishment may be imprisonment for up to three years. If such actions result in death or other serious consequences, the imprisonment term may range from three to eight years.

Supporting the operation of Boryspil Airport and funding for maritime rescue operations

Bill No. 11042 proposes allocating nearly UAH 682 million as funding for Boryspil Airport in 2024 and UAH 75 million for search and rescue operations at sea while reducing expenditures on servicing the state debt by the corresponding amount (UAH 756.8 million). Unfortunately, the Ministry of Finance’s position on this matter is unknown. However, we hope that such expenditures do not entail the resumption of civilian flights from Boryspil Airport, as periodically stated by representatives of the Office of the President.

Expedited handling of cases in courts

Bill No. 11039 proposes amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine regarding extending judicial proceedings in case of a judge’s replacement. Essentially, it involves changing the “default” procedure: If a case must restart by default, it can be extended at the parties’ insistence or by the judge’s decision. Under the proposed bill, however, the case would continue by default but could be “rebooted” at the parties’ insistence or if the judge disagrees with the previous judge’s findings.

The draft law maintains the current provision that evidence examined during judicial proceedings before the judge’s replacement retains its probative value and can be used to justify judicial decisions. Implementing this bill would shorten the duration of proceedings and contribute to the alleviation of the courts’ workload. 

Conducting unscheduled inspections during wartime for cases of mobbing

During martial law, the State Labor Service may conduct unscheduled inspections only in cases where an employee (or their trade union) files a complaint regarding the discovery of unregistered employment relationships or the legality of termination of employment contracts. Project 11044 proposes expanding the grounds for unscheduled inspections to include employee complaints regarding mobbing against them. According to accompanying documents for the project, the State Labor Service received 553 complaints regarding signs of mobbing in 2023. Therefore, the project aims to protect employees and reduce the number of such cases.

State bonds and promissory notes for forcibly alienated property

Bill No. 11048 pertains to compensation for forcibly alienated property under the conditions of the legal regime of martial law. According to the proposals, compensation to the owner may be provided not only in cash, as it is currently, but also through state bonds and/or promissory notes. The procedure for providing compensation and the responsibility for developing this procedure is entrusted to the Ministry of Finance. Such changes would allow the state to defer payments over time, effectively acquiring property on credit, which makes sense during times of war. Property owners would receive interest on the bonds in return.

Tax exemptions for charitable assistance to civilian partners of deceased defenders

Bills No. 11050 and 11051 are aimed at establishing legislative grounds for exempting charitable assistance provided to a woman or man who lived as a family with a deceased defender without registering their marriage, but where the fact of cohabitation is established by court order from taxation. The logic of the bills is understandable, but attention should be drawn to the fact that “common-law marriage” is a longstanding issue in Ukrainian legislation. The Family Code contains specific provisions for “common law” and registered marriage. For instance, the absence of marriage registration does not exempt one from alimony (Article 91) or property division (Article 74) during separation. However, before claiming the benefits provided by the bills and initiating legal proceedings, it would be necessary to prove the family relationship of the recipient of charitable assistance in court (the bills do not specify a list of possible evidence for this). Additionally, it would be advisable not to enact separate laws for each type of relationship (apart from charitable assistance, this could include inheritance, guardianship over children, and others) but rather to comprehensively address the issue of recognizing a de facto marriage by adopting a law on civil (registered) partnership.

Increase in salaries for local government employees

Bill No. No. 11054 proposes establishing a minimum salary level for officials of local self-government bodies (LSGB) at no less than the minimum wage. Additionally, the project obliges LSGB to publish decisions establishing bonuses, additional payments for extra workload, and other monetary payments to LSGB officials with justification (such decisions are not published for state officials). The current law on remuneration establishes that the minimum official salary (tariff rate) must not be lower than the subsistence minimum. Accordingly, local officials’ salaries are “tied” to the subsistence minimum. As of January 1, 2024, the subsistence minimum and the official salary of a grade 1 employee are UAH 3,195. The minimum wage in 2024 is set at UAH 7,100 from January 1 and UAH 8,000 from April 1, which means that if the bill is adopted, LSGB officials’ salaries will roughly double. This requires additional funds. However, the bill’s initiators needed to provide adequate financial and economic justification or specify the sources of these funds.

Authors

Attention

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations