PACE committee calls for charges against former government members to be dropped


Strasbourg, 16.12.2011 – The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called for charges against former government members in Ukraine, including former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, to be dropped.

Former Interior Minister Jurij Lutsenko and former Defence Minister Valeriy Ivashenko should be released at once for humanitarian reasons because of their rapidly deteriorating health, the committee said in a draft resolution approved yesterday in Paris, based on a report by Mailis Reps (Estonia, ALDE) and Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin (Sweden, EPP/CD).

The parliamentarians said the articles of Ukraine’s criminal code used to bring these cases were “overly broad and effectively allow for post-facto criminalisation of normal political decision-making. This runs counter to the rule of law and is unacceptable.” It should be up to parliaments, and ultimately the electorate, rather than the courts to assess political decisions, they added.

The committee also pointed to “systematic deficiencies” in Ukraine’s justice system, and spelled out a series of steps to increase the independence of the judiciary, reduce excessive detention on remand, and end the existing bias in favour of the prosecution. They also again called for constitutional reform, and further changes in Ukraine’s election law.

The report on Ukraine – one of ten Council of Europe member states currently subject to the Assembly’s monitoring procedure – is due to be debated by the full Assembly in Strasbourg on Thursday 26 January.

The draft Resolution on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine can be found here

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