Ukrainian law enforcement system has long been not able to meet the contemporary challenges, the needs of the society, and international democratic standards. According to the sociological research of the Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the level of citizens’ trust to law enforcement bodies dropped after the Revolution of Dignity to the critical point – 0.8%. Law enforcement bodies reform is a priority superseded only by the fight against corruption, according to the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation.
In July 2015, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the new Law “On National Police” (to replace the Law “On Militia” of 1990), which came into force on November 7, 2015. The law contains many positive elements, including de-politicization of police, service character of its work, etc. The document was recognized by the Council of Europe as detailed and comprehensive (particularly in terms of staff issues). Doing their daily job, the new patrol police which appeared in the streets of Ukrainian cities, returned people’s confidence in real systematic changes in the country. Meanwhile, the new law on police contains a number of serious drawbacks which have been indicated both by experts and the Council of Europe. These are the lack of competition to all positions, preservation of quasi-military ranks in the system of police and others. These drawbacks require immediate correction.
Reformation of prosecution bodies has been one of the outstanding obligations of Ukraine before the Council of Europe since 1995. The Law “On Prosecution Service” of 1991, which preserved centralized militarized structure of post-Soviet prosecution service with an internal unconditional subordination of prosecutors to their superiors and attempted to impose total surveillance on all spheres of human life had been in force for a long time. The new Law “On Prosecution Service” was adopted in 2014. In particular, it stipulates depriving the prosecution service of its functions of general surveillance, transferring functions of pre-trial investigation to a new body – the State Bureau of Investigations, holding competitions to fill the positions in newly-established local prosecutor’s offices in all regions of Ukraine, and creation of effective bodies of prosecution self-government.
However, in 2016 the goal of prosecution service reform has not been achieved. “Old personnel” and the system of bureaucracy that has been existing over the last decades are resisting the reforms. As a result of the competition, 84% of former senior staff members were reappointed by the Prosecutor General to the administrative positions in newly established local prosecutor’s offices. The established bodies of prosecution self-government preserve a high degree of loyalty to the Prosecutor General, thus leaving the prosecution service an instrument in the hands of political power. Power acquisition by these bodies has been postponed until April 15, 2017.
The State Bureau of Investigations, which could have gained its powers on March 1, 2016, has not been established yet. Thus, cases against law enforcement officers, judges and high officials are still being investigated by prosecutors.