MainPublications of our law firmPublications in mediaWhy the law on defamation can’t be revoked

Why the law on defamation can’t be revoked

  • Author: Andriy Buzynnyi
  • Standardized procedures: Legal advice
  • Date of publication: 28/09/12

Andriy Buzynnyi, lawyer of law firm “Pravova Dopomoga” prepared the article for Ukrainian Business Resource about a bill that may bring liability for defamation. The published paragraph was called “Why the law on defamation can’t be revoked”.

Full text of the article (translation):

“Famous bill that imposes liability for defamation is now at risk of becoming known not only because of being so widely discussed but also due to procedural rules being neglected during its adoption by the Parliament.

Overall excitement caused by the bill looks very similar to the planned pre-election stunt. It is not the first time when politicians first announce some very unpopular initiative and then "heroically" defend interests of the people by calling such initiative ill-considered, premature, non-European, etc. As the result it is successfully revoked and never remembered again. But in people's heads some positive memories are left about the fact that such ill-considered initiative was revoked!

As for the bill on defamation everything goes according to plan: the bill is registered, public outcry is great (especial activeness is on the side of online audience) and there are even talks that initiatives are ill-considered.

So did "initiators" plan to adopt the bill after the first reading? Probably not. On the one hand it helped trigger the public outcry but on the other it took away all legal mechanisms to cancel the initiative.

The fact is that the Law of Ukraine "On Rules of Procedure of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine" stipulates that a bill may be revoked by legislative initiator (in this case - by an MP) that introduced it only before the inclusion of such bill in agenda of the parliament . If a bill is already included in the agenda then it can be revoked by the decision of Parliament with 226 MPs voting for cancellation prior to its adoption after the first reading. At the same time the cancellation may be initiated by the MP who introduced the bill through submission of application to the Chairman of Verkhovna Rada.

In our case the bill has already been adopted after the first reading so the procedure of bill cancellation that is spoken of in public cannot be applied. First of all parliamentary rules do not stipulate the possibility to revoke a bill after its adoption during first reading (neither by an MP himself nor by the Parliament as a whole) and secondly there draft of a resolution to cancel the decision of the Parliament was submitted after the first reading instead of application. It is worth mentioning that the Parliament makes resolutions regarding organizational, control and other similar activities. It is at least unclear how cancellation of voting for the bill during its first reading falls under this category of cases.

After taking above mentioned facts into consideration one may come to the conclusion that the cancellation of the bill did not occur and it still will have its registration number and may be waiting for better days. At the same time what prevented such an unpopular bill from simply waiting until the second reading? Its fate would be decided upon then and it simply would not be adopted by the MPs. For this reason one may think that such a repeal of the famous bill is nothing but pre-election trick that is a commonplace procedure and is performed with violation of the procedural provisions of the Rules of Procedure of Verkhona Rada.”

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