Council of Europe: Ukraine is flouting court rulings

According to EC Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg, Ukraine has ended up on the blacklist of European countries that flout court rulings. Mr Hammerberg believes that this should be viewed as a rejection of the principles of a law-based state and as a serious human rights problem.

If you win a court case, say over your pension or for child maintenance, this is no guarantee that justice has prevailed. In countries such as Albania, Bosnia + Herzogovina, Moldova, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine, court rulings are often only partly enforced, or with a long delay, or totally ignored. The EC Human Rights Commissioner drew this conclusion from examining the applications being made to the European Court of Human Rights.

In an interview to Radio Svoboda, Thomas Hammarberg spoke of the problems which drew his attention in Ukraine. “This applies to the State authorities, including in the area of education, and also to a large extent to state-owned companies, for example, in the coal industry which don’t pay wages or pension, or compensation to workers injured at work.”

Kyiv lawyer Tetyana Montyan told Radio Svoboda that she comes upon cases where court rulings are flouted virtually everyday.

“In Ukraine only those court rulings which are enforced voluntarily, or where no coercion is needed, are carried out. If coercion is needed, then it is practically impossible to achieve. At the same time our Bailiffs can always find the time and inspiration to provide their services in cases involving seizures [reiderski].”

In response to this the Ministry of Justice urge all those who notice such seizures, to call them on their emergency helpline. The Deputy Director of the Department of the State Bailiffs’ Service, Oleksy Solonko admitted in a Radio Svoboda interview that non-enforcement of court rulings is a serious problem in Ukraine. He hopes that the new version of the Law on writ executions will help. The document is being prepared for its second reading in parliament. “The draft law, for example allows for administrative arrest of an individual for non-enforcement of a court ruling. There are often cases when the Bailiff tries to establish what property the debtor has and it transpires that the property is not registered in his name, he does not receive income, and therefore we can’t meet the demands of the person seeking to extract what is owed”.

However, if the draft law is aimed at punishing those who persistently refuse to pay maintenance and other individuals fleeing the courts by registering property in friends’ names, the question of the State’s liability to, for example, teachers and miners whom it promised to pay wages and pensions to, remains open.

The reform of legislation and increase in financing of the courts are steps in the right direction however they are not enough, Thomas Hammarberg says. He stresses that it is vital that laws are adhered to, including by the State itself.

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