Media and political components to dominate over the rules of law in resonant cases – says Lidia Izovitova.

Advocacy 11:47 Fri 21.09.18 57 Reviews Print

The Head of UNBA, Lidia Izovitova, takes part in the joint sitting of the Council of Judges of Ukraine, the Council of Prosecutors of Ukraine, the UNBA and the Commissioner for European Court of Human Rights.

In her speech, the Head of UNBA has noted the increased  violations of the advocates` professional right and guarantee to practice law.

"We sense a permanent increase in pressure on advocates", - says Lidia Izovitova.

According to the UNBA thematic report, provision of the information from the unified registry of pre-trial investigations has violated the advocates’ rights 1,162 times starting from 2013; 75% of which - according to Art. 397 of the Criminal Code, indicates interference with the activities of an advocate; 21% - threat or violence against an advocate. In this case, proceedings are not investigated, and in more than half of the cases are dismissed..

"Since 2013, there have been eight murders of lawyers, and we associate it with their professional activities", - stated the Head of UNBA.

Advocates are subjected to unlawful searches, while investigating judges grant search orders in violation of the rights of advocates as special entities. The data of the Single Register of Advocates of Ukraine is openly accessible, but neither judges nor prosecutors are verifying the registry data in order to establish that, in specific cases, it is a lawyer whose rights and interests are protected by the Constitution and the law.

“Judicial control is far from perfect, since investigating judges often ignore rights of advocates. Neither judges nor prosecutors take their time to make sure what the special entity is”, - stated Lidia Izovitova.

It is common, that advocates are associated with their clients, , and not only in public commentaries or information space. There are proceedings, where an advocate is identified as a member of a criminal group - along with his/her client.

The application of the legislation does not guarantee advocates real observance of their rights.

"When the CPC was adopted in 2012, and the separate article on the rights of advocates was not envisaged, but on the CPC only included advocate’s obligations, we were constantly told that we had had the same rights as a suspect and an accused person, and that this was good as human rights are broader. This was understood by lawmakers, but not by those, who apply this Code. Today it's a problem”, - said Lidia Izovitova.

In addition, it is provided that in one proceeding there can be no more than 5 advocates, while the number of prosecutors is not limited. "The CPC provides that there can be maximum 5 defendants in the court. And how many prosecutors can be there? It is not specified – even the whole prosecutor's office", - commented the Head of UNBA.

The Head of the UNBA stressed that "today representatives of each institution - both advocacy, prosecutor`s office and the judiciary - are exposed to professional risks."

Thedecision of CJU number 45 "On measures to ensure compliance with the principle of equality before the court and the law” was presented for consideration at the joint meeting of participants. The decision concerns the prosecution of a judge of the Kyiv District Court of Poltava for rendering a deliberately unlawful decision.

"The reaction to this judge's decision and subsequent events, namely, the political comments from the General Prosecutor's Office, disinformation of the society, prosecution of the judge by launching criminal proceedings - all this was a logical continuation of the tendency to violate the principles of equality and competition of the parties and the rule of law”, -  said the Head of the UNBA.

Although the Constitution provides that judges are independent and governed by the rule of law in their practice, in fact this safeguard does not work:for public, judges are politically divided and belong with either the authorities of the past or the current, while judges do not defend themselves as an independent branch of government.

The Head of the UNBA stressed that advocacy is concerned about such a situation in the judicial system.

"Advocacy needs an independent court for protecting the rights of people", - stated the Head of the UNBA.

However, politicians and state officials give public assessments of court decisions and criminal proceedings contrary to national law, in particular the presumption of innocence, and the practice of the the European Court of Human Rights. The ECtHR’s several decisions consider public statements of state officials to constitute a violation of the ECHR with respect ongoing proceedings, provided that those statements inflame the public to consider the suspect to be guilty and assess the facts and evidence before the court does.

"The media and political components has begun to dominate the rule of law in resonant cases. Its outcome for the justice and the rights of people we protect may be catastrophic”, - said Lidia Izovitova, stressing that public comments of that nature should be held back.

At the same time, that the situation with Judge Antonov is an exception to the  rule.

"When on the day of the judgment the authority which administers the URPI, which uploads the information in the URPI, suggests that the judge has already been convicted, it is, firstly, a violation of the presumption of innocence. Secondly, it is a violation of the rule of law and it is a pressure on those judges who are to consider the case in the appeal. This is the pressure on the judge who considersthe case and the pressure on the public”, - said the Head of UNBA.

If this case is to be considered by the ECtHR, the decision that the judge acted under the pressure of public officials will be obvious.

The Head of the UNBA proposed to create a monitoring group from representatives of each of the institutions participating in the joint meeting on the implementation of the Resolution, which will be adopted upon the result of the meeting.

Photo by Evhen Korol

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