02.11.2005 | Viktoria Onishchenko, Kyiv

The planned reforms of the courts and of law enforcement bodies do not meet the needs of a democratic society


On 10 October, in the UNIAN, human rights protection activists and lawyers discussed issues relating to the reform of the courts and of law enforcement bodies in Ukraine. Although Mykola Siriy declared that he had assembled the press not for criticism, much criticism was heard. “If we respect the power, then we must openly point out the all drawbacks and mistakes, which it makes”, he said.

The first serious accusation was expressed by the lawyers about non-professionalism of the present power. “One must have professionalism, but not only the will and freedom to do something”, said Mykola Siriy and gave several examples of the activities, which, in his opinion and in the opinion of many other experts, were not adequate from the viewpoint of professional lawyers. So, he flayed the Order of the President on the creation of the Inter-departmental commission in charge of questions of reforming of the judicial system. From the viewpoint of world practice nothing really good can be created by a commission, which, by words of Siriy, “is collectively irresponsible for everything they write”. The draft of the Criminal-Procedural Code is an example of such “collective” work, which prejudices the possibility to turn Ukraine into a democratic and free state. “I, as a professional, need only 15 minutes to explain the absurdity of this 400-pages scribble”, remarked Mr. Siriy. “Yet, at all sittings given up to discussion of the new draft of the CPC, they did not allow me to open my mouth, so I had to take the floor by a small scandal, although I am a thoroughbred and intelligent person”.

Program manager of the Ukrainian Helsinki Union of human rights Volodymyr Yavorskiy emphasized that no organ could reform itself. However, just this process takes place now in Ukraine. Human rights protectors insist that independent experts must be involved in such important projects, as it is done in other democratic countries. Mr. Siriy added that he and his organization “Lawyers’ club” were absolutely opened for cooperation and, being independent of any political interests, were ready to help the power in solution of the questions of reforming of law-enforcing and judicial organs. “We are ready for cooperation and will work together with the power, or at least inform the public about possible results of these or those actions of the authorities and the probability of the reforms, which they promise to make”.

V. Yavorskiy also points out that even now the power demonstrates its unwillingness to work openly and transparently, to listen to the opinion of experts. “Recently it has become known that the Supreme Council is going to adopt the current version Criminal-Procedural Code, in spite of 1000 pages of criticism of international experts, who recommended to adopt the CPC only in the debugged, revised form”, told Mr. Yavorskiy. “However, the power ignored the opinion of international and local experts, decided to adopt the code and even distributed the draft among MPs for familiarization”.

Mykola Siriy stated that if the CPC would be adopted in the present form, this would put an end to the democratic society and freedom and would be a great step backwards. He points out that it is a very dangerous draft and it is necessary to make everything possible to prevent its adoption. “This is a step to the Middle Ages. There are some unpleasant clauses in the draft, for example, the first interrogation can be conducted before the meeting with advocate. One can only guess what methods would be applied for obtaining of testimonies. The draft also contains many other clauses restricting the access to defense. So, if this CPC would be adopted, we would be absolutely legally deprived of the constitutional right for defense. This is not compatible with a democratic society”, concluded Volodymyr Yavorskiy.

On the other hand, all participants of the press conference agree that the reform of the judicial and law-enforcing organs is necessary and urgent. Yet, they express their anxiousness about the fact that the judicial system is not ready for such reforms, and everything should be done step by step. “The system existing today was born many years ago, during Kuchma’s regime. And we really need to get rid of it, but this cannot be done abruptly, as it happens now, for instance, in road police. Judges and prosecutors must be prepared, trained, and only after this the reforms should be carried out. This will take much time”, said Mykola Siriy at the end of the press conference.

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