Ukraine: mounting debt and continued non-enforcement of Strasbourg judgements


Government representatives assert that the country is simply unable to pay out all the money awarded to applicants by the European Court of Human Rights and say that reform of legislation in implementation of Strasbourg’s judgements will take years.  Analysts stress that the main requirement is change in application of the law in Ukraine. They are also unanimous in their view that the number of applications to the European Court of Human Rights [ECHR] in no way reflects the real picture with infringements of human rights in Ukraine.

There is now a problem with systematic non-payment of compensation awarded by the ECHR. According to the Justice Ministry this year’s budget allocated 84.4 million UAH for such payments, with the debt as of 30 July reaching 14.2 million.

Volodymyr Oliynyk from the ruling Party of the Regions asserts that the reason for this debt lies in parliament having passed populist bills. This, he says, applies to laws on social benefits which he believes the state is not able to provide. According to Oliynyk the arrears to Strasbourg applicants could reach 179 billion UAH (how he reaches this figure is not explained – translator).

Lawyer Valentina Telychenko, however, stresses another aspect, that being the urgent need to resolve the actual problems identified, not simply pay out compensation.  She says that at present the Justice Ministry largely washes its hands of the need to actually implement the ECHR judgements and that the government does not appear to understand that enforcement is not confined to simply paying out compensation.

This point is reiterated by Stanislav Shevchuk from the National Academy of Legal Sciences who has himself acted as Ad Hoc Judge from Ukraine at the ECHR.  “The main thing is a change in the legal system in accordance with European standards, and here Ukraine needs to do a lot of work not only in changing legislation, but particularly in practical application of the law. It is this practice which should be in first place in the context of European standards”.   He says that it is this that will be deemed enforcement, and allow for judgements to stop being monitored by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.

Since 2001 Ukraine has paid almost 147 million UAH in compensation following judgements from the European Court of Human Rights. Last year there were over 10 thousand applications and Ukraine is in fourth place for the number of applications to the ECHR.

From a report at Radio Svoboda

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