Ukraine: killing of lawyer must be investigated promptly
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The ICJ calls on the Ukrainian authorities to investigate the murder of lawyer Olexandr Ivanov, killed today with an automatic weapon near SIZO (Pre-trial Dentention Centre) №6 in Kropyvnytskyi.
The shooting was carried out from a car by unknown persons. The lawyer died on the spot. Another person injured in the incident was hospitalized in critical condition.
“The killing of lawyer Oleksandr Ivanov must be independently, promptly, and thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” said Temur Shakirov, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser.
“Such crimes strip any legal reforms of their positive impact if lawyers’ life is always in danger when exercising their functions,” he added.
The police have confirmed the occurrence of the killing and initiated an investigation preliminarily qualified as intentional murder under article 115-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA) is planning to convene an emergency meeting of the Committee on Protection of Lawyers Rights and Professional Guarantees. The UNBA has also referred to the leadership of regional prosecution and police authorities to bring the case under personal control.
“During its recent mission to Ukraine the ICJ heard of cases of killings of lawyers and this case demonstrates that little progress has been achieved in addressing the security of lawyers in Ukraine,” said Shakirov.
International human rights law, including the European Convention on Human Rights to which Ukraine is a party, requires that states take steps to protect the life and physical integrity of persons who they know or ought to know are at real risk of violence.
According to the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, governments must ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference (principle 16). The UN Basic Principles specify that “[w]here the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities” (principle 17).
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