Information on the work of attorneys in the Free Legal Aid system indicates the effectiveness of protection - Igor Kolesnikov.

Advocacy 15:02 Wed 26.05.21 40 Reviews Print

The Secretary of the Bar Council of Ukraine (hereinafter – the BCU), Igor Kolesnikov, is convinced that there are no objective grounds for reforming the system of evaluation of free legal aid.

He stated this during the round table "Improvement of Legislation on Free Legal Aid in Ukraine", which took place online. During the round table an analysis of the compliance of the bill №5107 "On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Facilitating Access to Free Legal Aid and Improving the Quality of Its Provision" to Council of Europe standards, prepared by international experts of the Council of Europe, was presented.

The BCU`s Secretary provided statistics, according to which in 2020 attorneys achieved the following significant results in providing free secondary legal aid: 156 cases resulted in an acquittal or revocation of conviction and closure of appellate and cassation court proceedings; 115 cases of closing the proceedings in the absence of corpus delicti, in case of failure to establish evidence to prove the guilt of a person in court and exhausting the possibilities of obtaining them; 3,543 cases of release from serving a probation sentence (Articles 75, 79, 104 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine); 7,882 cases of imposition of the minimum term (size) of punishment.

At the same time, in 2020, employees of regional centers conducted 1,226 monitoring of the quality of free secondary legal aid  in criminal proceedings, when such assistance was provided to persons under 18 years of age (4,038 cases), persons who due to their physical or mental disabilities cannot exercise their own rights for protection (9,596 cases), persons who do not speak the language of the criminal proceedings (1,634 cases); 3,664 checks of timeliness and completeness of free secondary legal aid provision; 1,320 observations of attorneys' work in courts. In 2020, the work of 1,384 attorneys was monitored. In 99.5% of cases, according to the results of the monitoring, attorneys complied with the Quality Standards for the provision of free legal secondary aid in criminal proceedings.

"What does the Ministry of Justice want to reform? Is the Ministry of Justice against the quality of work provided by attorneys in the system of free legal aid?” - Ihor Kolesnikov commented.

He stressed that the information given in the statements of the representatives of the Ministry of Justice in the media, that the systems for assessing the quality of the provision of free secondary legal aid allegedly do not work, shall be deemed untrue.

The Ukrainian National Bar Association (hereinafter – the UNBA), has created all the conditions and appropriate bodies for this system to assess the quality of free legal secondary aid to work. It works effectively. We can provide relevant information, " - the BCU`s Secretary said.

He also reminded that the bar consistently opposes the introduction of the peer review mechanism, and such decisions were made by both the Bar Council of Ukraine and the Congress of attorneys of Ukraine, when the entire bar community opposed various models of these same changes to the relevant law.

"We are against the Ministry of Justice single-handedly adopts relevant regulations, which in their content eliminate the UNBA as the only professional organization of the bar from participating in such activities as assessing the quality of free legal secondary aid," - the BCU`s Secretary has said.

Bill № 5107 proposes to supplement the Law of Ukraine “On Free Legal Aid” with Article 6-2 “Assessment of the Quality of Free Legal Aid”, which provides for the introduction of a mechanism for independent assessment of the quality of free secondary legal aid provided by attorneys using the peer review tool through establishing of a commission for independent evaluation of the quality of free secondary legal by the Ministry of Justice.

It is envisaged that the Regulations on the Commission and its quantitative composition, the mechanism for conducting an independent evaluation of the quality of free secondary legal aid using a peer review tool, and the procedure for conducting a competitive selection of expert lawyers to conduct this evaluation shall be approved by the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. The amount and procedure for payment for the services of expert attorneys in assessing the quality of free secondary legal aid shall be established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.

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