THE PUBLIC CALLS ON THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE TO VETO AMENDMENTS TO THE PROCEDURAL CODES

On October 3, 2017, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to the Commercial Procedure Code of Ukraine, Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine, Administrative Procedure Code of Ukraine and other legislative acts” (hereafter referred to as the Law No. 6232).

If signed by the President, this Law with its highly dangerous amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code may paralyze the whole judicial system of the country and become an obstacle to anti-corruption investigations and investigation of the ‘Maidan cases’.

This primarily relates to the following provisions:

  1. Amendments to articles 219 and 294 of the Criminal Procedure Code significantly reduce the terms for investigating criminal offenses from the current 2, 3, 5, 10 or 15 years (depending on the category of a crime) to as little as 3 months (for minor and medium gravity crimes) and 6 months (for grave offenses and particularly grave offenses) before the suspects are served with charges. The terms can be extended, but the overall duration of the investigation shall not exceed 12 months.

The abovementioned amendments create a conflict of law with the provisions of the Criminal Code of Ukraine regarding the limitation period for bringing to criminal responsibility, since the latter will not correspond to the limitation period for the criminal prosecution.

Thus, all “Maidan cases” and cases against former state leaders that have not been referred to court will be immediately closed, since the terms for investigation set forth in the new law have long expired. Respective amendments will rule out the possibility of effective performance of all pre-trial investigation authorities, particularly the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), since they will not be able to duly conduct the majority of investigative activities, including surveillances, as they will be forced to haste the process. The number of refusals to initiate investigation of non-obvious crimes may also grow significantly, as investigators will not undertake investigating such crimes in the said terms and will refuse to register crime incident reports to avoid increasing the statistics of undetected crimes.

  1. According to the amendments to articles 242-244 and article 332 of the Criminal Procedure Code, only courts shall have the right to assign a forensic investigation, including upon their own initiative. This means that the side of the defense will be deprived of its competitive right to independently involve experts, while the prosecution will have to wait for the court’s permit for conducting expert investigation, including the one aimed at determining the cause of death.

At the same time, only state specialized institutions will have the monopoly to conduct forensic investigations (amendments to article 2 of the Law of Ukraine “On Forensic Investigation”). This will result in a significant narrowing of the right to protection and the constitutional principle of competition between the parties.

  1. Amendments to article 132 of the Criminal Procedure Code provide that motions by investigators and prosecutors on the enforcement of proceedings shall be filed to the courts of those administrative units where respective investigative bodies are registered as legal entities. In the police system, lowest-level bodies are regional police departments. Thus, the majority of police investigators will have to constantly travel to regional centers 100-200 kilometers away from their offices instead of investigating cases.

Taking into account the above-mentioned, a coalition of public organizations the Reanimation Package of Reforms calls on the President of Ukraine no to allow the establishment of the lawlessness, narrowing the constitutional principle of competition between the parties and to VETO the Law “On Amendments to the Commercial Procedure Code of Ukraine, the Civil Procedure Code of Ukraine, the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine and other legislative acts” (No. 6232).

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