Good intentions are better than court practice
While politicians reason about the necessity to carry out the court reform in Ukraine and try, without special successes, to convince the Council of Europe in the ‘substantial progress, the court practice in our country remains unchanged.
As before, a person suspected in committing a crime and tried at court is considered guilty almost automatically. According to the data of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, in 1998 from the total number of 232,598 brought to court only 884 (0.38%) were acquitted. In the first half of 1999 the proportion of the acquitted was even less: 399 out of 114,551 (0.35%).
People who committed not grave offences make the majority among the condemned. Such people who were incarcerated for the term up to three years counted 25,468 out of the total number 42,977 or 59.26% in the first half of 1999 (in 1998 it was 59.1%).
The number of those who got delayed verdicts made 26,081, i.e. 22.8% (in 1998 it was 21.6%), 5,224 were fined, i.e. 4.56% (in 1998 it was 5.96%).
Although the penitentiaries are overcrowded and have grave problems with the provision of food and medicines, the main punishment in Ukraine remains incarceration (37.5% in 1999 and 37.2% in 1998).
In the first half of 1999 8,868 minors were convicted, i.e. 7.74% of the total number of the convicted of all ages (in 1998 it was 7.8%), 2,192 of them were incarcerated, i.e. 24.7% (in 1998 it was 27.2%). Almost 15% of the convicted are women — 17,044.
In spite of the stern demands of the Council of Europe concerning the death penalty in Ukraine, the rate of convictions to death is not decreased. In the first half of 1999 71 criminals were condemned to death, i.e. 0.062% of the convicted (in 1998 it was 131 death verdict or 0.056%). At present about 410 criminals are expecting the execution.