Article Ukraine: New Legislation Proposes Regular Psychiatric Evaluation of Legislators

On November 18, 2021, Bill No. 6262 on Conducting Mandatory Preliminary Psychiatric and Drug Evaluations of Public Figures was forwarded by the leadership of the Ukraine’s legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, to the Rada’s Committee on Health, Healthcare, and Health Insurance for review and consideration. The bill was introduced in the Verkhovna Rada on November 1, 2021.

If adopted, the law would require all legislators to submit to the clerk of the Verkhovna Rada a certificate showing they had passed a drug test and psychiatric evaluation before the beginning of each new session of the legislature. Such a certificate would also be required before registering candidates for elections. (Bill No. 6262, art. 1.)

The bill states that in addition to elected members of legislative bodies, holders of the highest government offices would be required to pass these evaluations.  The bill would apply to the following:

  • Members of the national legislature and all other elected representative bodies.
  • Leading administrators of the Verkhovna Rada.
  • The president of Ukraine, assistants and advisors to the president, the chief of staff of the president, and other leaders of the president’s administration.
  • The prime minister, members of the cabinet of ministers, deputy ministers, and the heads of other national executive and regulatory agencies.
  • Members of the Central Election Commission and Accounting Chamber.
  • The prosecutor general, the prosecutor general’s deputies, and the heads of other prosecutorial and law enforcement bodies.
  • The chairman of the National Bank, deputy chairpersons, and members of the National Bank Board.
  • The highest military commanders.
  • The heads of regional government administrations and the heads and members of board of state enterprises or enterprises managed by bodies of executive power. (Art. 2.)

The Central Election Commission is to define the procedure for publishing the results of these evaluations. (Art. 3.)  The bill provides that the law would enter into force on the day following its signing by the president, and the cabinet of ministers would establish the procedure for conducting these evaluations within one month. (Art. 4.) The original proposal that all current legislators and officials pass drug tests and submit themselves to psychiatric evaluations within the three-month period after the passage of the law was removed from the version of the bill currently under debate. Also, the amended version of the bill excludes justices of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and heads of all other Ukrainian courts from the requirement to prove their mental fitness.

The explanatory note to the bill says that the adoption of this measure is needed because “government work increasingly requires a high level of attention as well as psychological and physical fitness,” and “applicants for the highest offices should be healthy and socially responsible persons in order to perform their duties.” The drafters of the bill state in the explanatory note that psychiatric control of decision makers and monitoring them to determine whether they have alcoholic or substance addictions is important for the national security of Ukraine and would ensure that government authorities serve Ukrainian people better.

Presently, Government Regulation No. 1465 of September 27, 2000 requires regular psychiatric evaluation of personnel employed in varied areas related to public safety. The list of those who are required to be under psychiatric monitoring includes firefighters; emergency services personnel; coal miners; the staff of nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities; railroad, aviation, and other transportation personnel; employees of health and educational institutions; and food industry personnel.  Depending on employment, regular psychiatric evaluations are conducted annually or periodically every two, three, or five years.

The bill does not provide for measures to verify the validity of the evaluations, and considering the high level of corruption in the country and the ability of officials to influence physicians, some observers recommend that norms be included in the bill that establish punishment for producing fake evaluation certificates similar to punishments established for using or producing fake COVID-19 vaccination certificates. In September 2021, the cabinet of ministers introduced amendments to the Criminal Code that punish the use of fake vaccination certificates by a fine or imprisonment for up to two years, as well as punish the production of fake vaccination documents by a three-year term of imprisonment. These amendments have not yet been approved by the Verkhovna Rada.

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Ukraine: New Legislation Proposes Regular Psychiatric Evaluation of Legislators
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