To the Prime Minister of Ukraine,
To the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine
To the Minister of Justice of Ukraine
On December 21, 2016, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine “On the High Council of Justice,” and at the same time included provisions that do not apply to the High Council of Justice.
According to these rules, the State Criminal-Executive Service of Ukraine (SCESU) was granted powers to conduct a pre-trial investigation of all crimes “committed on the territory or in premises of SCESU.”
From now on, all cases of abuse, including torture, committed by the staff of SCESU, are investigated by investigators from among the staff. This is contrary to the principles of proper investigation of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, formulated by the Court and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, such as independence, impartiality, thoroughness, promptness, competence, accountability. It is clear that investigative powers of SCESU mean no independence and impartiality.
In addition, the definition of exclusive jurisdiction of SCESU concerning all crimes committed on its territory or in its premises, creating uncertainty about the delimitation of the SCESU’s jurisdiction and other subjects of pre-trial investigation.
In addition, these changes were made without following the statutory procedure. Part 1 Art. 116 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” (amendments were related to the provisions of the Law, which in the first reading did not make any changes at all) was broken. These provisions were not discussed in the Parliamentary Committee on Legislative Support of Law Enforcement. Moreover, they were initiated through People’s Deputies by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice, which allowed avoiding conciliation procedure for submitting a government bill.
We are convinced that granting investigative powers to SCESU is a violation of fundamental principles of fair and effective investigation procedure, according to which no one can be a judge in his own case. These amendments will only deepen the problem of ineffective investigations into cases of torture and other abuses in places of captivity, and so that is the system for the recognition of many international bodies.
In view of the above, we call on:
To cancel the amendments to the legislation regarding granting investigative powers to SCESU as soon as possible;
To immediately stop the creation of investigative units of SCESU.
Valeria Lutkovska, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights
Arkadiy Bushchenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union