Problems of the Ukrainian Bar were discussed at a conference in Vienna

11:02 Wed 14.02.24 159 Reviews

The 52nd European Conference of Presidents of Legal Organizations, traditionally organized by the Austrian Bar Association (ÖRAK), has recently taken place at Vienna's Ferstel Palace.

More than two hundred representatives of European and international organizations of lawyers, judges, politicians and academics from forty countries gathered in the legal center of Europe to discuss topical issues of the rule of law and problems of realization of fundamental human rights and freedoms.

The Ukrainian delegation was represented by Lidiya Izovitova, president of the Ukrainian National Bar Association and the Bar Council of Ukraine, Valentyn Gvozdiy, vice president of UNBA, BCU and Serhiy Barbashyn, chairman of the UNBA Next Gen.

In her report, president of the UNBA focused on the problems of the Ukrainian bar under martial law. The professional organization, which unites all Ukrainian lawyers, has recently received reports of shameful pressure exerted on defense lawyers. Thus, if the prosecution does not like the overly active position of a lawyer in a criminal case, and there are no procedural (legal) tools to defend the legal position, representatives of the military authorities (TCC) suddenly appear in the courtroom and hand the lawyer a mobilization notice.

Judges, prosecutors, their assistants, law enforcement officers, and all other employees of the justice system are protected from mobilization. However, lawyers have no guarantees in this regard. Even though the Constitution of Ukraine entrusts them with the function of providing legal aid, and the institution is recognized as a component of justice.

L.Izovitova emphasized the risks in protecting the rights of citizens and the absence of a provision on booking lawyers in the government draft law No. 10449 on strengthening mobilization, introduced on January 30 this year. The draft law was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada in the first reading extremely quickly without taking into account the position of the bar, which was sent by the UNBA to the Parliament. The very next day, the Bar Council of Ukraine convened an extraordinary meeting and decided to submit the relevant amendments to the legislative initiative.

President of the UNBA emphasized that in this case it is not only about observance of the principle of fair justice, equality of participants in legal proceedings and guarantees of legal profession, but first of all about ensuring the right to legal aid for vulnerable groups of the population and other citizens of Ukraine, including military personnel. L. Izovitova expressed her hope for support in this matter.

Other speakers at the conference included First Deputy President of the European Parliament Othmar Karas, President of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) Pierre-Dominique Schupp, Rector of Johannes Kepler University of Linz Lucas Meinhardt, Director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Policy (USA), Professor Mark Rothenberg, and other distinguished guests.

V.Gvozdiy held a number of working meetings with the heads of European bars to further establish cooperation and provide assistance to Ukrainian lawyers who suffered losses as a result of military operations in our country.

After the conference, the Austrian Federal Minister for EU and Constitutional Affairs Caroline Edtstadler invited the conference participants to the Federal Chancellery. Federal Minister of Justice Alma Zadic hosted a reception at the Trautson Palace.

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