Systematic attacks on the advocates of high-profile cases and the bar self-government bodies require an immediate response from law enforcement agencies and state leadership
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The UNBA appeals concerning the next attack on the advocate, which was made on 7 August 2018 in the city of Kyiv. For the past 10 days it is already the third case of interference with advocates' activity and physical violence organized by the so-called paramilitary activists of public organizations. Now there is every reason to assume that, with further inaction on the part of law enforcement agencies, advocates expect a wave of organized persecution for their professional activities and further politicization of the role of the defense in criminal cases.
On 7 August 2018 in the premises of the Court of Appeal of the city of Kyiv members of the right-wing organization C14 attacked advocate Oleg Povalyaev. First, the group of persons present at the hearing, began behaving in a provocative way with the aim to disrupt the trial.
After comments of advocate Povalyaev about the inadmissibility of such behavior, two of them grabbed the advocate's arms, and the third person hit him in the face. After the announcement of the break in the court session advocate Oleg Povalyaev at the exit from the court was confronted by a group of of about 30 people. Shouting insults and cursing, they began to threaten him with physical violence due to the fact that the advocate in their opinion, does not protect the "right guy".
The police, which was present during these events did not react in any way. In fact the police were condoning the offenders committing a crime under art. 398 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (threat or violence against an advocate). According to advocate Povalyaev the information on criminal offense has been entered to the URPI. This situation will be reviewed at the next meeting of the UNBA Committee on Protection of Advocates’ Professional Rights, which will be held on 10 August 2018.
With the inaction of law enforcement agencies there happened another significant precedent when the advocate was indicated in a language of physical force who has the right to legal assistance and who has not. Although the Constitution gives this right to everyone, pseudo activists obviously do not respect the provisions of the Basic Law, and the police remain indifferent to the violations of advocates' professional rights and citizens' constitutional rights. If the law loses its effect with the tacit consent of law enforcement agencies and the state on the whole, the protection of human rights becomes impossible. In this case, the fate of people will be determined not by the law and justice, but by political expediency, radical ideology and physical force. This situation is already far from the rule of law standards and can lead to the collapse of the justice system and HUMAN RIGHTS institute of the bar. In the future, if not only the right to be protected, but other rights of citizens will be determined by the will of the crowd, and disregard for the law will go unpunished, the state risks to be on the verge of civil conflict.
Systematic attacks on advocates in high-profile criminal cases, violent seizure of the office of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, blocking of work of the bar self-government bodies using methods of psychological pressure and threats require an immediate response of law enforcement agencies and state leadership, as well as international partners. It is not just the point of need to ensure smooth professional work of advocates and independent functioning of the institute of the bar. It is the point of confirmation of the guaranteed right of everyone to professional legal assistance, restoration of respect for the fundamental principles of the rule of law and equality of rights and freedoms of citizens. Ukraine as a democratic state can not exist without the bar as an independent component of the justice system that should protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
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