BCU will address the President concerning the danger of calls for human rights restrictions in the Criminal Procedure Code

Advocacy 10:54 Sat 11.09.21 30 Reviews Print

The Bar Council of Ukraine will address the President of Ukraine concerning calls for restrictions of human rights in the Criminal Procedure Code, which are openly expressed by the President's representative in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.

During the opening of the BCU meeting on September 10, the Head of UNBA, BCU Lydia Izovitova drew attention to the speeches of Fedor Venislavsky in the media, where he pointed out the need to change the Criminal Procedure Code because of too broad rights of attorneys.

"Such statements are made in conditions when the rights of attorneys are constantly violated by law enforcement agencies. We know this for sure from the statistics kept by the regional bar councils and the Committee for the Protection of Attorneys' Rights, UNBA Secretariat. We have a stable situation when our metropolitan region, Kyiv and Kyiv region, hold the lead in conducting searches of attorneys, including without notifying Bar Council of the region,” Lydia Izovitova said.

She reminded that only in April-June 2021 the regional bar councils received 110 notifications about searches and detentions of attorneys. Another 52 cases of detentions and searches took place without BC of the regions` notification, 46 of them were in Kyiv region. According to statistics, during this period, representatives of the BC of the regions 156 times made visits to the relevant procedural actions of colleagues.

Lydia Izovitova described such statements of the official as “calls for the return of authoritarian justice when there are no acquittals; attorneys perform the formal role of those present in the trial, and the court is governed by the prosecution."

The Head of UNBA, BCU referred to the decision of BCU №119 "On public discussion of compliance with the principle of equality of participants in court proceedings, presumption of innocence, as well as adversarial process, unimpeded exercise of rights and guarantees of advocacy", adopted in 2020.

"It is unfortunate that these principles once again are subject to unhealthy speculation, on which we must provide a legal position and once again initiate a public professional discussion on the need to adhere to standards of human rights, independence of the bar and adversarial justice. These are fundamental things for the bar, which have already been implemented in Ukrainian legislation, in the course of difficult discussions, numerous efforts of parliamentarians and attorneys. Therefore, calls to abandon these standards are in fact a proposal to abandon those European integration principles enshrined in the Constitution," the Head of UNBA, BCU said.

On September 11, during a BCU meeting, Lydia Izovitova recalled the history of the adoption of the current Criminal Procedure Code, which was a compromise on the rights of attorneys. However, it is currently proposed to further restrict the rights of defenders.

"Today, even this Criminal Procedure Code seems so democratic to some that it is proposed to cut it once again,"  the Head of UNBA, BCU said.

She clarified that this is an intention to reduce the guarantees of citizens, and this is done on behalf of a person who "was authorized to represent the guarantor of our rights in the Constitutional Court, and it is very dangerous, so we cannot react."

Lydia Izovitova also reminded that working groups within the Legal Reform Commission are working on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, and some of these changes propose to revive the 1960 Criminal Procedure Code. UNBA, through its representatives in these working groups, proved the danger of such ideas and their consequences. At present, such a position needs to be communicated to parliamentarians, who can amend the Criminal Procedure Code by a simple majority.

"It is necessary that deputies know the consequences for all citizens and for the people's deputies themselves. They need to know where laws, that restrict rights, can lead to,” the Head of UNBA, BCU urged.

It will be recalled that the President’s representative in the Constitutional Court, Fedir Venislavsky, said in an interview with the parliamentary TV channel Rada that “The current Criminal Procedure Code has a lot of opportunities for abuse and prolongation of the process. We see this in the example of many high-profile cases. The defense can delay the case for years ... The Criminal Procedure Code needs to be improved. Almost everyone is talking about it."

A similar statement was made in an interview with TV Channel 24 on September 3, 2021: "Just a few days ago, I said on one of the TV channels that, in my opinion, the Criminal Procedure Code should be changed as part of judicial reform. The legal community immediately took up arms against me. They said that Venislavsky told that the Criminal Procedure Code, recognized by the Venice Commission as the best, needed to be changed. In fact, this Criminal Procedure Code provides very significant opportunities for the defense to make such a significant delay. In particular, in the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine. Unfortunately, we have many examples of attorneys abusing their procedural rights to prolong the case."

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