Ukrainian authorities should provide defense guarantees for lawyers - ECBA

18:10 Fri 12.05.23 419 Reviews

The prohibition of identification of an advocate with a client must be enforced under any circumstances, regardless of the category of cases. Ensuring this guarantee of the legal profession is a positive obligation of each state.

This is stated in the resolution adopted on May 6 by the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) following the discussion of the legal consequences of the war in Ukraine.

"Sharing the indignation of all conscious citizens at the facts of massive war crimes and crimes against humanity, we emphasize that even in such circumstances, the rule of law must be respected," the document says. - We congratulate our colleagues at the Ukrainian National Bar Association for their commitment to protecting the right to a fair trial, no matter how heinous the crimes charged against their clients. Such a position is courageous because, against the backdrop of the aggressor's actions, it is unpopular and often challenging to understand."

The European lawyers reminded me that the highest calling of the legal profession is to ensure that all people, regardless of the severity of the charges against them, receive a fair trial without intimidation or bias.

Instead, the ECBA noted, today's trials in Ukraine are accompanied by pressure on lawyers from society, politicians, and law enforcement agencies. This includes not only physical attacks or intimidation but also attempts to impede the provision of qualified defense, for example, by forcing the termination of contracts, particularly in the free legal aid system.

"We are witnessing numerous searches of Ukrainian lawyers, which have signs of persecution and harassment. This is a global problem that threatens the independence of the profession, which cannot be justified even under martial law," the resolution states.

According to paragraph 18 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by the VIII United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime on August 1, 1990, lawyers should not be identified with clients and their cases concerning the performance of their professional duties.

The rule of prohibition of identification with a client, the document emphasizes, must be observed under any circumstances, regardless of the category of cases (traitors, prisoners of war, collaborators, etc.). At the same time, ensuring this guarantee of the legal profession is a positive obligation of each state.

Therefore, the ECBA called on the Ukrainian authorities to ensure the protection of lawyers and on the Prosecutor General's Office and law enforcement agencies to take measures to stop any acts of interference with their professional activities, condemn attempts to exert pressure, and impartially and effectively investigate all attacks on lawyers.

As a reminder, the systemic facts of obstruction of professional activity, violation of the rights and guarantees of the legal profession became the basis for convening an extraordinary meeting of the Bar Council of Ukraine on April 11. This issue was also discussed on April 27 during a roundtable organized by the Ukrainian National Bar Association.

For reference: The European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) is an association whose members are independent lawyers from the member states of the European Union and the Council of Europe, as well as from other countries.

The Association was founded in 1992 and has since become the leading organization of lawyers in Europe. It brings together criminal defense lawyers and criminal law experts in Europe who defend the fundamental rights of persons under investigation, suspects, accused, and convicted persons.

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