Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
The right to a fair trial

On restoring Ukrainians’ confidence in the judiciary


The Council of Europe is ready to help Ukraine reform the present judicial system and raise the level of public confidence in judges.  This was the message from Ake Petersen, Authorized Representative in Ukraine of the Council of Europe’s Secretary General on Thursday at an international conference in Kyiv on observance by judges of ethical standards. 

According to Mr Petersen “The judicial system lacks impartiality. Judges don’t want to change therefore people don’t trust them. That is important for the country, but it won’t change over night.”

He added that the level of independence of Ukrainian judges, as well as the level of trust in them from the population, is extremely low due to bribe-taking and political pressure.

For this reason he said, the Council of Europe was ready to provide assistance in raising the professional level of Ukrainian judges to meet European norms.

At the same time the Chair of the National Commission for the Strengthening of Democracy and the Rule of Law Mykola Onishchuk stated that at the very first session of the new parliament a number of draft laws on standards for judges would be considered. He believes that over the next two years the situation with regard to the judiciary must change.

It should be pointed out that Ukrainian human rights defenders have recently revealed information which does indeed place the quality of the court system in question.  As reported here, Donetsk Memorial disclosed figures showing that the chances of being acquitted in a Ukrainian court are pitifully low (0.5%).

In light of this, one “chance of justice” remains the introduction of a jury system capable of radically changing the nature of the criminal process. However the two main parties likely to form the ruling coalition (Nasha Ukraina – Narodna Samooborona and BYuT) are proposing to bring in elected judges.

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