The Ukrainian National Bar Association, Association of Advocates of Ukraine, and Ukrainian Bar Association have announced a joint initiative to develop the Declaration of Criminal Justice Reforms.
The objectives of the Declaration are to protect human rights in the criminal justice system and protect the working privileges of advocates.
The Declaration will be used by advocates for outreach to official parties, civil society, and the media to protect human rights and respect the work of advocates, and to establish remedies for violations.
The Declaration is not a juridical document. This is a concise statement of key principles which need to be enforced, according to Ukrainian law and international standards which are applicable in Ukraine.
Daily practice in the criminal justice system does not fully respect Ukrainian law or European standards. This is why the Ukrainian professional associations of lawyers and advocates have decided to develop a single document which summarizes the position of advocates regarding key required changes, and serve as a tool for changing practice.
This document serve as an instrument enabling the general public to learn about shortcomings in the criminal justice system and mobilize in favor of criminal justice reforms on the basis of outreach by advocates.
The Declaration is now being put through a consultative process involving advocates from all regions of Ukraine. Finalization and ratification of the document is expected in June 2015.
Lidia Izovitova, President of the Ukrainian National Bar Association, expressed her gratitude to the experts of the EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine” for their contribution to development of the Declaration. “The judicial system should act according to the rules, and in this Declaration we are raising the issue of its independence. We believe this document will bring to a higher level the issue of human rights protection in courts”, – said Lidia Izovitova.
In the opinion of Denys Bugay, President of the Ukrainian Bar Association, the Declaration will be a step forward towards protection of human rights and called upon lawyers to join the process of discussions.
“Civil society strengthening is impossible without a proper judiciary and advocacy”, – said Oleg Chernobay, Head of the NGO “Association of Advocates of Ukraine”, – “This Declaration may become a bridge between civil society and advocates”.
“Justice starts with good laws, and it needs to be done and seen to be done in practice”. This Declaration is an instrument for implementation of the legal framework for the criminal justice sector”, – says Mark Segal, Key Expert of EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine”. He stressed that the first draft of the Declaration is a result from many events where Ukrainian lawyers and advocates had spoken. “Putting the Declaration into practice and making it into a valuable tool are the obligation of Ukrainian advocates”, – noted Mark Segal.