On February 23, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the draft law No. 5610 “On amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine” (to improve the mechanisms of ensuring the tasks of criminal proceedings) submitted by a group of MPs headed by Mykola Palamarchuk, MP from the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. The draft law was endorsed by President Poroshenko and Prosecutor General Lutsenko who claimed that this is “an opportunity to bring Yanukovych” to responsibility.
Actually, this draft law considerably restricts constitutional rights of the citizens and contradicts the standards enshrined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and the principles of legal proceedings guaranteed by the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine. Therefore, the Reanimation Package of Reforms strongly believes that the draft law No. 5610 shall not be adopted as a whole in the existing version.
1) prolongation of the period of pre-trial investigation from 12 to 18 months coupled with the suggested procedure of determining the period in case of merging proceedings (article 219 of the CCP) violates the principle of a reasonable period of criminal proceedings. It will allow to keep the persons in an uncertain status of suspects for many years;
2) prolongation of the period of detention from 12 to 18 months (article 197 of the CCP) considerably restricts human right for personal freedom. The suspects whose guilt has not been proven yet, will be kept at pre-trial detention centres – often in inhuman conditions – for much longer;
3) court’s permission to detain a person will be valid not for six months, but until death (article 190 of the CCP), which violates the right for personal freedom and the principle of legal certainty;
4) serving of court summons through official printed media (article 135 of the CCP) violates the persons’ right to be duly notified of the charge. From now on, all law-abiding citizens will have to check if there is any information about them in the media.
5) the concept of “particularly complicated criminal proceedings” (article 197 of the CCP) lasting up to 18 months is not clearly defined and, thus, contains the risks of corruption. It will be an investigator or a prosecutor that will define proceedings as “particularly complicated.”
Adoption of this draft law will bear an impact not only on ordinary citizens, but also on businesses, as non-reformed investigatory bodies will be able to keep entrepreneurs on the hook for a long time, delaying the investigation.
The amendments proposed by the draft law No. 5610 are actually a counter-reform of criminal proceedings that downplays the positive changes in the field of criminal justice which Ukraine has made since 2012 and which have been appreciated by our international partners. Moreover, the draft law No. 5610 also contradicts such strategic documents as the Strategy of Reforming the Judiciary, Legal Proceedings, and Related Legal Institutes for 2015-2020 and the National Human Rights Strategy, as well as the relevant action plans on their implementation.
When the draft law was being discussed in the session hall, the Prosecutor General promised he would ensure that two regulations – serving of court summons through media and prolongation of the period of investigation till 18 months – are removed before the second reading. However, this does not settle other fundamental issues of the draft law which violate the Constitution of Ukraine and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.
If the draft law No. 5610 is adopted as a whole with the above-mentioned regulations, it will actually bring the Ukrainian criminal justice back to the “Soviet” standards, reducing to nothing all the progress in this sphere reached over the period of independence.
Therefore, the RPR calls on the international community to make a stand against adoption of the draft law No. 5610 “On amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine” (to improve the mechanisms of ensuring the tasks of criminal proceedings) unless all the above-mentioned contradictory provisions are removed.