Arkadii Bushchenko’s public statement on refusal to participate in the forum of the National Association of Advocates of Ukraine

I got an invitation from the National Association of Advocates of Ukraine to participate in its forum “Protection of Human Rights in a Criminal Procedure: Proof and Evidences”. The forum is held by the NAAU with support of the project of the Council of Europe “Support to Criminal Justice System Reform in Ukraine” (launched under the financial support of the Government of Denmark) and a shared project of the European Union and the Council of Europe “Consolidation of Justice Sector Policy Development in Ukraine”. [1]

Though there are important issues put on the agenda, which I consider worth of professional discussion, recent developments in the Advocacy make me publicly refuse from the participation in this event.

I believe that the discussion of any issues referring to the legal system requires an atmosphere of free exchange of views, ideas, and beliefs. Any discussion becomes meaningless without such an atmosphere.

However, the governing bodies of the National Association of Advocates of Ukraine, almost since the day of their establishment, pursue a policy directed at suppressing any dissent. [2] Dating back to 2013, when a massive crackdown against advocates took place, this policy was particularly visible in recent events.

10 September 2015, on the initiative of the management of the NAAU, by the decision of the QDCA of the Region of Kyiv, the lawyer Andrii Vyshnevskyi was revoked his right for Advocacy. The pretext for this was the advocate Vyshnevskyi’s critical statements on the situation in the Advocacy of Ukraine at the conference “Judicial Reform: Strategic Planning and Further Steps”. [3]

This is an irrefutable evidence of the intended policy of the NAAU management. It results in the fact THAT any expression of his or her point by the lawyer may lead to a disciplinary responsibility and revocation of the right for profession.

I do not think that this policy creates a proper atmosphere for the discussion, including the framework of the forum appointed by the NAAU for 28-29 September 2015. The policy of the management of the NAAU will definitely lead to self-censorship of the lawyers who will possibly participate in the event.

I do not consider it necessary to spend my time for participation in the event the subject matter of which – given the lack of conditions for an open discussion – is not clear to me.

Also, I do not find it acceptable that my participation in the event is seen as support of the policy pursued by the management of the NAAU.

Reiterating the significance of the issues put on the agenda of this event, I believe it is appropriate to hold a discussion on platforms of the organisations which are more attentive to freedom of expression and value an open discussion.


Lawyer Arkadii Bushchenko


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