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One Overlooked Issue That Ukraine’s Political Parties Should Seize Now

Police reform is still listed among Ukraine’s most successful reforms undertaken since the Revolution of Dignity, but it shouldn’t be. In 2014-2015, it served as a showcase demonstrating Ukraine’s progress. To be fair, some results had been attained by that point: the newly reshuffled patrol police force was more transparent, it demonstrated zero tolerance for corruption, and it enjoyed unprecedented public support.

But “police reform” was only about patrol police, who account for less than one-tenth of the entire National Police—that is, 12,000 employees out of 140,000. The criminal police force, which investigates all general criminal offenses and is responsible for public safety, has never undertaken reform. Despite government promises that other vital departments of the National Police will undergo a reform as decisive and fast as that of the patrol police, it never happened. Notably, public trust of the patrol police has dropped from 55 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2018.

Meanwhile, an effective and fully operational criminal police force is more crucial now than ever. Ukraine is still one of the least safe countries in the world: it ranks 107 of 149 states, according to the Legatum Institute. Due to the country’s poor economic conditions, the war in the east, the unmonitored trade of unregistered firearms, and Russia’s continuous attempts to destabilize public security, the rate of armed crime has grown significantly.

The police are incapable of responding to these challenges. In the past two years, there have been a number of attacks on journalists, politicians, and civic activists that have never been properly investigated, despite high levels of public attention. According to the latest statistics, the national police solve as few as 34 percent of registered crimes. Moreover, victims are normally persuaded or even forced to not file complaints, while at the same time, the police fail to respond to victims’ calls, refuse to give people the right to see investigators in charge of their appeals, and ask for bribes to speed up investigations.

Additionally, the criminal police not only fail to perform their duties; they also vastly abuse their power. Torture, illegal arrests, and misconduct at peaceful protests remain the most common police abuses. Regrettably, fewer than 100 of these cases are investigated annually, and fewer than thirty per year end in convictions.

It is fair to say that Ukrainians, de facto, live without police protection. This leads to a decreased level of public security, increased social tensions, and a perceived lack of justice. Statistics show that citizens resort to calling the police mainly in cases of serious violent crime.

Nevertheless, despite the urgency of the matter, reform of the National Police is no longer a priority, and there is no single government platform to unite efforts around it. This is explained by a lack not only of political will, but also of strategic vision and a specific plan for what police reform should look like.

Effective Strategy on Interior Ministry Reform Until 2020” issued in November 2017 is a purely declarative document failing to include deadlines, key performance indicators, or responsible officials; moreover, the action plan it references that was due by February 15 has never been developed.

As experts rightly admit, the lack of a high-level advocate for reform leads to sporadic actions and turns it into a battlefield of different political forces. Despite some gains in this area often cited by the government, the law enforcement system, including the National Police, is not only unreformed, but opposes attempts to address its systemic problems. Continue reading “One Overlooked Issue That Ukraine’s Political Parties Should Seize Now”

Oleksandr Banchuk: The Freedom we lose (Dzerkalo tyzhnya, No. 15)

NB: The article was published in “Dzerkalo tyzhnya. Ukraine” newspaper No. 15 (April 22-April 27).

Many documents have been adopted in Ukraine to raise level of human rights protection and improve respective norms of the Constitution.

The list includes law on access to public information; on free legal assistance; on advocacy; on public associations; on the national preventive mechanism (empowers the public to control places of detention); the Criminal Procedural Code, which helped to adjust Ukrainian system of criminal justice in accordance with European standards.

Victory of the Revolution of Dignity provided great possibilities for further consolidation of constitutional rights of citizens in their relations with the state. This position is also proven by analysis of the National Human Rights Strategy and the Judicial System, Legal Procedure and Related Legal Institutions Reform Strategy for 2015-2020. Those documents have been signed into law by the President and the Parliament has developed detailed action plans on implementation of those strategic documents.

Though, analyzing vast changes to the legislation that occurred during last three years, it becomes clear that authorities have turned all those strategies into “useless scrap of paper” paying no attention even to the Constitution requirements (especially its second section on human rights and freedoms).

There is a timeline of cases, when authorities neglected Constitutional rights and freedoms. Continue reading “Oleksandr Banchuk: The Freedom we lose (Dzerkalo tyzhnya, No. 15)”

Eugene Krapyvin: Why doesn’t Ukraine need a new law on Detective Operations? (Dzerkalo tyzhnya, No. 15)

NB: The article was published in the “Dzerkalo tyzhnya. Ukraine” newspaper No. 15 (April 22 – April 27).

On April 4 a draft law “On Detective Operations” (No. 6284) was registered in the Verhovna Rada. This law is going to replace the old one of 1992, which was adopted when Ukraine wasn’t a member of the Council of Europe, didn’t have its own Constitution and had no intentions to join the EU.

Experts and scholars assert that the applicable law doesn’t meet either European standards of secret surveillance carried out by law enforcement bodies, nor modern acts of Ukrainian criminal procedural law.

Last time the question about Detective Operations was raised was the end of 2016, when parliamentarians failed voting for a similar draft law No. 4778, which had to maintain that soviet institution at least for some time.

Detective Operations institution was developed in the middle of XX century within the soviet criminal justice and presented a set of secret actions, which were fixed as operating guidelines with appropriate security label. Interference into people’s private life during such undercover surveillance was considered normal. Legislation of the Soviet Union lacked real guarantees of human rights. Despite a number of transformations, current Detective Operations institution has been inherited from the Soviet Union. But now it contains not only investigative measures, directed at acquisition of evidence within the criminal proceeding, but also norms of intelligence and counterintelligence activities, verification when providing an access to the state secret.

But we have to pay attention to the question whether we need an independent Detective Operations institution parted from the criminal process. Continue reading “Eugene Krapyvin: Why doesn’t Ukraine need a new law on Detective Operations? (Dzerkalo tyzhnya, No. 15)”

Bringing the legislation on administrative responsibility into accordance with standards of the EU and practice of the ECHR: report

The report is prepared by a lawyer, expert of the group “Police under control” Yevgen Krapyvin for the expert discussion “Development of legislation on administrative responsibility. New Code – necessity and perspective”, which took place in the Verhovna Rada of Ukraine Institute of Law on April 3, 2017.

Administrative tort law of Ukraine is still based on the Soviet Union Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offences (hereinafter referred to as CUoAO) of 1984, what prevents its reform despite groundwork carried out by experts and scholars.

First of all, we are talking about adoption of a new codified act – the Code on Administrative Offences – one of top-priority measures provided for by the Conception of the Administrative Reform in Ukraine[1] of 1998. This measure wasn’t realized because of a lack of political will among lawmakers and lack of consolidated approach within academic circles and state bodies, which use norms of administrative tort law. At that, during 1998-2013 at least three projects of the CUoAO have been submitted for consideration of the public, but none of them haven’t been supported. Development and adoption of the new code have been “canned” for years[2].

Today, taking into consideration reformation of the law enforcement (creation of anti-corruption bodies, reform of the police, etc.) and criminal justice (approval of the CPC of 2012, introduction of the Institution of Criminal Offences) we understand that administrative tort law has to undergo considerable changes. In this regard we have to talk about bringing the legislation on administrative responsibility into accordance with standards of the EU and practice of the European Court of Human Rights (hereinafter referred to as ECHR), taking into account intentions of Ukraine as for integration into the EU and international legal commitments it has to the Council of Europe. Continue reading “Bringing the legislation on administrative responsibility into accordance with standards of the EU and practice of the ECHR: report”

Oleksandr Banchuk: Disciplinary Statute of the National Police: police officers – not human?

NB: the article is published on the web site of Ukrayinska Pravda.

The MIA has developed a Disciplinary Statute of the National Police, which doesn’t meet European standards and turn police officers into compliant and deprived of rights components of the administrative system, ready to perform any directions.

Adoption of the “Law on National Police” on July 2, 2015, became an important stage in reformation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and creation of the new police. But this law is being realized along with the Disciplinary Statute of Law Enforcement Bodies, which was adopted 10 years ago (as of 2006).

It is impossible to build a new body in accordance with European standards in the field of relations with citizens, if internal rules of relations between police officers and their governing body remain “soviet”. Taking this into consideration, the government on the proposal of the Ministry of Internal Affairs put forward a project to the parliament No.4670 on the Disciplinary Statute of the National Police, which have already been supported in the first reading and is awaiting its approval.

Leadership of the MIA does try to provide not only decent remuneration of labor and social support, but also offers to introduce an unknown in the democratic world “presumption of rightness of police officers”.

Considering this we may have been anticipated wider rights of police officers and stronger guaranties of their activities in the new Disciplinary Statute of the Police.

Instead, the reality is opposite.

Heads of the MIA don’t need self-sufficient and independent police officers. They need compliant and deprived of rights components of the administrative system, ready to perform any directions.

Thus, the project of the Disciplinary Statute lacks comprehensive list of offences, which may make the police officers liable or cause a dismissal.

It opens huge possibilities for the police leadership to abuse “undesirable” officers. Policemen will never know which misdeeds will be punished and which will be encouraged. And the leadership will be able to use the law “by analogy”. Continue reading “Oleksandr Banchuk: Disciplinary Statute of the National Police: police officers – not human?”