EU Project “Support to justice sector reforms in Ukraine” promotes dialogue between the parties to the criminal proceedings
In early October 2014 the EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine” supported the initiative of the NGO “Protection of Human Rights” on organising regular round tables to discuss issues related to the application of provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine. The key objective of the initiative is to build up common understanding of criminal procedure by judges, prosecutors and advocates.
The idea to create a discussion space for the parties to criminal proceedings appeared in July, 2014. The first round table took place at the office of the EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine” a few months later. Sitting around one table, the parties discussed the problems, collisions and conflicts arising when applying specific provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code.
To-date six round tables were held in Kiev and one in Ivano-Frankivsk. Alongside advocates, judges, prosecutors and investigators, the representatives of the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine, the Presidential Administration and of the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights participated in discussions.
The manual “Pre–trial proceedings: extended detention on demand” was printed basing on the results of the first round table. It covers the most frequent errors committed when ruling a decision and recommendations on how to eliminate them.
The round tables on October 30 and on November 6, 2014 supported the proposal on amending the Law of Ukraine “On the Bar and Advocacy” as for access to state registers and responding to advocates’ requests.
The participants to the round tables agreed that detected problems could not be solved only by amending the legislation. A longer training program is required, as well as understanding and respecting the norms of ethical conduct by all the parties to criminal proceeding.
Due to the professional discussions, propositions on reforms of criminal justice have also been elaborated. According to Anna Kolesnyk, head of the NGO “Protection of Human Rights”, this initiative is unique because shared discussion between the representatives of the judiciary, the prosecution and the bar, together with the legal experts, helps to detect the problems of different interpretation of the law. “The round tables have proved that the parties to the proceeding are ready to communicate openly, to change their opinions and practices, but they need support and understanding,” – says Anna Kolesnyk.
“It is extremely important for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and investigators to get together and frankly discuss how to improve the handling of criminal cases,” – said Mr. Mark Segal, Key Expert of the EU funded project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”, Component 4 “Access to Justice and Rights to Defence” , – “The legal framework is changing, the rights of the people are being acknowledged in new ways, and implementing reforms and making changes in practice requires new modes of communication and cooperation”.