Is the new Criminal Procedure Code fully implemented in Kyiv courts?

Kyiv, 29 October 2015 – The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, also known as the Ombudsperson, along with the Institute of Applied Humanitarian Research presented the monitoring results of the Criminal Procedural Code implementation in Kyiv courts.

TAB 9720The adoption of the new Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine (CPC) in 2012 was one of the most important steps in reforming the criminal justice system in Ukraine. Drafted in line with Ukraine's international commitments, it ensures the closest compliance possible of criminal procedure regulations with international human rights standards. However, as with any law, its value had to be assessed based on the degree and consistency of its implementation.
In order to assess the actual state of implementing CPC's requirements in court proceedings and to identify existing problems, the Ombudsperson's Office and the Institute of Applied Humanitarian Research conducted court monitoring with the support of UNDP Ukraine, the Council of Europe, and the US Embassy in Ukraine in 2014 and 2015.
TAB 9783The organizers selected a group of 28 observers with a law degree, professional experience, and high motivation to monitor court proceedings held in 10 district courts of Kyiv and the Appeals Court of Kyiv in the period from 5 July 2014 till 15 February 2015. Guided by a custom-designed questionnaire, the specially trained observers were asked to observe and record certain contextual relevant facts during the court hearing (behaviour of trial participants, other circumstances thereof, etc.).
"The subject of the observation was not the whole proceedings, but only one court hearing of proceedings, which was randomly selected by monitors. This approach has guaranteed the opportunity to receive objective information regarding the trial as a whole," said Olena Smirnova, Deputy Head of the Office of the Commissioner.
Findings collected throughout the monitoring were summarized into a report, containing numerous recommendations for the judiciary, the prosecution, and the bar. The report's findings show some systemic deficiencies such as a failure to ensure public hearings, increased control over courthouse access, delay or adjournment of court hearings, as well as improper notices of hearing date, time, and place.
In addition, the monitors noted a lack of compliance with the judicial code of ethics. For example, during the trial, judges were observed using non-verbal communication with the audience, reading periodicals and using phones, treating participants of proceedings improperly and disrespectfully.
TAB 9750The monitoring findings will serve as a foundation for a special report of the Ombudsperson to the Parliament. Similar monitoring could be up-scaled in other cities and regions to ensure the use of the whole arsenal of new CPC's tools in proceedings.
In his remarks during the presentation of the findings, UNDP Democratic Governance Advisor Marcus Brand underlined the importance of this initiative: "The Criminal Procedure Code is something like a backbone of a well-functioning government system. Aiming to improve the quality of new CPC implementation, the monitoring contributes to the ongoing judicial and justice sector reform. It also enhances the capacities of civic actors to monitor the performance of public institutions and nurtures the community of professional civic monitors."
The monitoring results summary was prepared and published with the support of the Democratization and Human Rights Programme (2013-2016) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine and financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.