The open letter of human rights protecting organizations on the consideration by the Supreme Rada of the draft of the new Criminal-Procedural Code

To V. Litvin, the Head of the Supreme Rada of Ukraine

To MPs of Ukraine

Respected ladies and gentlemen!

We, representatives of Ukrainian human rights protecting organizations, are turning to you with the request to direct the draft the new Criminal-Procedural Code of Ukraine (draft No. 3456-1 of 19 May 2003), which will be considered by the Supreme Rada of Ukraine on 11 September 2003, for the second reading.

The draft of the CPC, one of the most important documents in any state, contains the scores of norms that groundlessly restrict human rights and fundamental freedoms. The draft does not take into account the international obligations of Ukraine in the sphere of human rights protection, establishes the absolute defenselessness of people and gives the carte blanch for the arbitrary and uncontrolled actions of law-enforcing organs.

According to the norms of this draft, it is possible (almost without any problems) to deprive a person of liberty for the commitment of “a socially dangerous action” (Article 118 of the draft) without a court decision (warrant), merely on the basis of the decision of an investigator or another law-enforcing officer. In contrast to the term “crime”, which is defined by the Criminal Code, the definition of the term “socially dangerous action” is not envisaged by the draft, so it can be interpreted differently.  So, the law-enforcing organs would have the opportunity to deprive a person of liberty in secret and not to inform anybody about that for a long time. The right for defense, especially during the pre-trial investigation, is essentially restricted, even in comparison with the existing legislation. The right for the meeting with an advocate before the first interrogation is abolished, so an accused becomes completely dependent on the law-enforcers, and the opportunity appears to apply the illegal methods. The secrecy of investigation prevails over all other principles of legal proceedings. Even on the last stage of the investigation the accused have no right to learn, on which proofs the accusation is based (Article 299 of the draft). The control of the activities of the operative militia units is practically liquidated, since Article 76 of the draft prohibits the interrogation of the persons that realize the operative activities about the methods and details of these activities. These innovations will turn the society into the hostages of the unrestricted and unpunished arbitrariness of the operative militia units.

It is also noteworthy that the draft substantially worsens the position of advocates in the criminal cases. The rights of advocates are diminished to the minimum, which would not allow them to fulfill their professional duty. The procedure of the removal of advocates is too simplified, because the draft does not envisage in details the conditions and procedure of this removal. So, the right for defense is violated, and the opportunity appears to remove the advocates, who do not satisfy the prosecution. All this creates a very serious danger of the condemnation of innocent persons.

Thus, the draft of the CPC directly violates the constitutional rights of citizens, in particular, the demands of Article 29 of the Ukrainian Constitution.

By the assessments of a great number of Ukrainian and international experts, this draft of the CPC does not meet the requirements of the International treaty on civil and political rights, the European Convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and many other international documents, which stipulate the basic principles of criminal legal proceedings in the democratic countries. The adoption of this draft will become one more barrier between Ukraine and democracy, and this, undoubtedly, will have a negative influence on the integration of Ukraine into the European community.

We do not lose the hope that the MPs will take into account the historical experience, that they will not deviate from the course of the development of the democratic law-abiding state, which is envisaged by the Constitution, and that they will guarantee the observance of the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens, even of those, who are suspected of some crimes.

Yours faithfully,

Inna Banakh, the charity fund “Povernennia do zhittia” (the Kirovograd oblast)

Volodymir Berezin, the manager of the organization “Bakhmat” (the Donetsk oblast)

Dementiy Bily, the head of the Kherson oblast public organization “The committee of young voters”

Natalya Bimbirayte, the head of the executive committee of the Kherson oblast foundation of charity and health, the coordinator of the NGO coalition of the Kherson oblast “Partnerstvo za prozore suspilstvo”

Natalya Bogrentsova, the editor-in-chief of the informational-analytical edition “Vilny vybir” (Kherson)

Ivan Boyechko, the executive manager of the Sevastopol human rights protecting group

Tetiana Varfolomeyeva, the first vice-president of the Union of advocates of Ukraine

Konstantin Vuzadzhi, the manager of the consultation bureau on human rights of the Union of advocates of Ukraine

Oksana Guzinets-Mudrik, the editor of the independent informational-advertising newspaper “VIKNA”, (Kalush, the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast)

Yevgeniy Zakharov, a co-chairman of the Kharkov group for human rights protection

Olga Zhukovska, the vice-president of the Union of advocates of Ukraine

Ganna Kiyashchenko, the head of the Poltava branch of the Social Service of Ukraine

Natalya Kozarenko, the head of the public reception office of the NGO coalition of the Kherson oblast “Partnerstvo za prozore suspilstvo”

Alla Lepekha, the manager of the charity organization “Chernigiv women’s center of human rights protection”

Vlasta Loya, the head of the scientific association “Poshuk” (Uzhgorod)

Katerina Lugova, the Chernigiv public committee of human rights

Andriy Matrosov, the head of the board of the Kherson town association of journalists “Pivden”, the head of the Kherson town press club

Vitaliy Nikitenko, the head of the board of the Kherson town association for the protection of consumers’ rights “The total action for the support of human rights and democracy”

Oleksiy Svetikov, the head of the Lugansk oblast branch of the all-Ukrainian public organization “The Voters’ Committee of Ukraine”

Oleksandr Solontay, the head of the Fund of Regional Initiatives (Uzhgorod)

Anatoliy Stasishin, an advocate, the head of the board of the public organization “Podilsk human rights protecting foundation” (Khmelnitskiy)

Alla Tiutiunnik, the president of the Kherson oblast foundation of charity and health, the chief-editor of the newspaper “Vgoru”,

Natalya Shkarupska, the president of the Center of legal and political research “SIM” (Lviv)

Volodymir Shcherbachenko, the head of the East Ukrainian center of public initiatives

Volodymir Yavorskiy, the executive secretary of the Council of Ukrainian human rights protecting organizations.

10 September 2003

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