Bar Council of Ukraine approved Recommendations on the protection of attorneys` rights in the period of COVID-19 quarantine
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Bar Council of Ukraine approved Recommendations on the protection of attorneys` social and professional rights in the period of quarantine.
UNBA\BCU President Lidya Izovitova reported this during the presentation of unified recommendations for judges on safe work during the quarantine.
The online event took place with the participation of HCJ, representatives of the EU Advisory Mission for Civil Security Sector Reform of Ukraine, the Council of Judges of Ukraine, the SJA, the Supreme Court, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, and the WHO.
"By approving these Recommendations, the High Council of Justice and the European Union Civil Security Reform Advisory Mission to Ukraine have done a great job of minimizing the risks of coronavirus infection in the courts. On behalf of attorneys and their clients, we are grateful for this work, including the fact that the Recommendations were developed transparently with the participation of representatives of all institutions that make up the justice system. In 2020, representatives of the National Bar Association of Ukraine participated in panel discussions, during which the draft recommendations were discussed", - said UNBA President.
At the same time, Lydia Izovitova stressed that Recommendations are based on the priority of the natural right to life, health, and a safe environment, and it is on this foundation that the Recommendations approved by the High Council of Justice should be applied. Accordingly, there is a need to strike a fair balance between this natural right and the right to a fair trial.
The right to a fair trial cannot be limited, its provision is a positive duty of the state, the pandemic has necessitated a reassessment of the content and meaning of the very concept of the "right to a fair trial", its new content. We can call it the right to a safe trial or a safe trial. In the new realities, justice must have such a component as the safety of life and health of all participants in the proceedings. I am sure that this renewal and rethinking will take place due to judicial practice, " - the UNBA`s head emphasized.
Lydia Izovitova added that there are unfortunate deaths of coronavirus among attorneys who died selflessly performing their professional duties in conditions of high health risks.
"A position based on the natural human right to life and health should not be regarded as a position restricting a person's right to a fair trial, which currently exists alongside the procedural time limits for consideration of the case. Similarly, it should not be used as a basis for disciplinary action against lawyers, accusations of abuse of rights, or dishonest performance of professional duties. Such manipulations are inappropriate and destroy the trust and mutual respect of the participants in the proceedings, the authority of the profession and do not contribute to the objective consideration of cases", - said UNBA President.
According to Bar Council of Ukraine Recommendations, in case of lack of safe conditions for advocacy (in particular, non-compliance with the number of people present at the established rate of square meters in the room, finding persons without personal protective equipment, etc.) attorneys may not participate in court hearings, in investigative actions, by sending a statement about the circumstances that endanger life and health. Such actions of the attorney are not a violation. Relevant proposals to amend the procedural legislation are being prepared and will be sent by the UNBA to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the High Council of Justice.
The BCU also recommends that lawyers file a motion to adjourn cases due to quarantine measures, the current epidemic situation in the area where the court is located, or the attorney lives or works.
"As we know from practice, in the absence of an attorney, the court may appoint another attorney, and as it usually happens – the attorney gets appointed from the system of free legal aid. However, the Bar Council of Ukraine recommends that under quarantine such a practice be interpreted as deprivation of the right to freely choose an attorney and violation by the attorney who will go in such a process",- said the head of the UNBA.
BCU Recommendations contain several other positions, including use of e-justice tools, in the development of which the Bar is actively participating.
Lydia Izovitova urged not to ignore the existing quarantine restrictions and medical recommendations. In this context, she recalled that UNBA urged Government to include lawyers in the priority list of Covid-19 vaccine.
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