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13.03.2009

Parliament considers amendments to the law on amnesty

   

A draft law has been tabled in the Verkhovna Rada which would cancel the right of amnesty to people in whose cases judgment had not yet been passed.

The parliamentary committee on fighting organized crime and corruption believes that the norm at present can overload the criminal investigation and court bodies considering less significant cases which will in any case fall under the amnesty.

The new draft law No. 4170 was registered on 10 March. One of its authors> Viktor Shvets from BYuT [Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko) himself considers that the main achievement of the draft law would be to stop the possibility of people being amnestied before their court has passed judgment in their case. However the draft law also proposes broadening the list of offences which preclude amnesty.  This would include people who committed medium seriousness crimes who had served less than half of their sentence, as well as those sentenced for taking a bribe, exceeding their official powers, crimes related to drug selling, traffic offences which caused death or serious injury.

At present amnesty cannot be applied for crimes against national security, terrorism, bandit activities, and murder. Those convicted of committing other deliberate serious or particularly serious crimes can hope for an amnesty only after serving half of their sentence. The authors of the draft law propose to increase this period to two thirds.

In commenting on the draft law for the newspaper Komersant - Ukraine, one of the members of the committee on fighting organized crime, Nikolai Dzhiga from the Party of the Regions believed that the court system was not ready for such innovations,  and that it could overload the system.

The situation with amnesty, especially the possibility of its application before sentence was passed, came to the fore over the freeing under amnesty and termination of proceedings against three men facing trial over a gas explosion in Dnipropetrovsk.  The amnesty has made it much more difficult, if possible at all, for victims and relatives of those who died in the explosion to receive compensation. See Dniprohaz, an amnesty and questions that could go all the way to Strasbourg http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1232837388  for more information.

Another point worth considering is that a number of cases involving abuses by law enforcement officers which human rights groups believe fall into the category of torture and ill-treatment are still most often prosecuted under the article for exceeding official powers.  The draft law, were it to be passed, would prevent such cases falling under amnesty.

Information about the draft law from http://www.kommersant.ua/doc.html?docId=1136979

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