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24.01.2008

The Right to a fair trial is not for Tymoshenko

   

Volodymyr Yavorsky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union has expressed concern over the statement made on Wednesday 23 January during a briefing by Prime Minister Tymoshenko.  The Prime Minister stated that a special resolution had been passed at a session of the Cabinet of Ministers which gives the freedom and right on the basis of the Constitution to not enforce knowingly criminal rulings or orders. The knowingly criminal nature of these is left to each government official to determine.

According to Mr Yavorsky, “Tymoshenko argues this on the basis of instances of abuse. She also proposes other ways of fighting abuses committed by judges which may be effective. However she does not have the right to publicly call for the non-enforcement of court rulings.

The enforcement of these rulings is part of the fundamental right to a fair trial without which the right itself becomes a fiction. This is repeated by the European Court of Human Rights in every second ruling against Ukraine. In this situation, one of the highest government figures is directly calling for court rulings to not be enforced. She does, admittedly, stipulate unlawful rulings only. Yet who is to decide that they are knowingly unlawful? Surely such rulings should first be revoked by a higher level court and only then not implemented. Now officials will be given the right to determine which rulings are lawful and which not, which is a direct belittlement of the judiciary and an encroachment upon their independence.”

At the briefing Ms Tymoshenko mentioned a few examples, giving the names and regions of the judges involved.  In one case (in Uzhhorod) a person had effectively had all tax and customs charges waived, while a similar type of ruling in Kharkiv resulted in a company not being liable for such customs and value-added tax. 

Ms Tymoshenko states that “The rulings are in the view of experts undoubtedly wrongful, and simply provide cover for the entire unlawful and untaxed movement of goods, services, etc, both abroad and within Ukraine.”

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