The EU Project “Support to Justice Sector Reforms in Ukraine” continues to promote its initiative on establishing the regional justice reform councils. Aimed to support the Government of Ukraine with implementation of the newly adopted Justice Sector Reform Strategy 2015-2020, this pilot initiative is now extended to Kharkiv Oblast.

On 21-22 July, Virgilijus Valancius, Team Leader of the Project, visited Kharkiv to discuss prospects for launching the regional justice sector reform council. Dr. Valancius held working meetings with Vyacheslav Abbakumov, Deputy Head of Kharkiv Oblast State Administration, Antonina Koltunova, Head of the Kharkiv Oblast Court of Appeal, Volodymyr Ostapenko, Head of the State Judicial Administration in Kharkiv Oblast, Yuri Danilchenko, Prosecutor of Kharkiv Oblast, Vasyl Tatsiy, Rector of the Yaroslav Mudry National Law University, Yevhen Zakharov, Executive Director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group, as well as the representatives of the professional associations of lawyers.

“Initially an establishment of the regional justice reform councils was intended as a pilot initiative limited to three regions only. The start of the initiative in Odesa and Lviv have demonstrated an importance of the platform enabling judges, prosecutors and lawyers to discuss problem issues. This is why our next step will be to support creation of the justice reform clusters in Odesa, Lviv and Kharkiv to extend this work to the neighboring regions,” – said Virgilijus Valancius.  He noted that all local stakeholders strongly supported setting up the Kharkiv Oblast Justice Sector Reform Council. Kharkiv Oblast State Administration also expressed interest in cooperation in the area of free legal aid provision.

The initiative to establish regional justice reform councils has been launched in April 2015 with a purpose to assist Ukrainian partners to improve institutional cooperation as an important prerequisite for successful implementation of the Justice Sector Reform Strategy 2015-2020 aiming to strengthen the rule of law and protection of human rights. The first meetings of the regional councils already took place in Odesa and Lviv.

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