The final meeting was held in Kyiv on 19 and 20 May of the 2018.
The event was attended by 34 lawyers and judges from all over Ukraine, all of them alumni of the course implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
The course, which lasted for a year and a half, is an educational tool for strengthening the professional capacity of Ukrainian lawyers in the protection of human rights and freedoms.
The participants studied remotely and then applied their newfound knowledge at on-site meetings. They also went on 3 international study tours and created memos on violations of the right to freedom for detainees.
The course included the following subjects:
- theory and history of human rights; European system of human rights protection;
- the right to a fair trial (Article 6 of the ECHR);
- the right to not be subjected to torture and inhuman treatment; the right to liberty and security (Articles 3 and 5 of the ECHR).
- the right to respect for private and family life (Article 8 of the ECHR).
- the right to peaceful enjoyment of one’s possessions (Article 1 of Protocol I) and others.
The training was conducted by the best practicing experts in the field of human rights. See the complete list of experts and assistants here http://hrs-course.helsinki.org.ua/
Main results of the course:
- 16 lawyers and 18 judges from 18 regions of Ukraine have completed the full course; this is the first course where lawyers and judges were trained together;
- a platform for online learning has been created in partnership with the Human Rights House Network. In the future, this experience and the developed platform can be used in the work of other countries and can be provided to other entities that wish to study this subject (Association for the Development of Judicial Self-Government of Ukraine, Ukrainian National Bar Association and National School of Judges of Ukraine);
- 5 modules and 5 on-site seminars have been developed (expert methods and materials; tailor-made lectures on 5 subjects). Course materials are being constantly updated;
According to the participants, the quality of preparing one’s position and procedural documents has changed. “Argumentation for a position has improved. I see weak spots in the work of my colleagues and inappropriate use of ECtHR case law and it helps me strengthen my own counterarguments.” This cycle’s curriculum was focused on the protection of human rights in an armed conflict and on working under conditions of transitional justice;
Participants actively share their experience with colleagues:
I’ve become quite an authority among my colleagues and a dispenser of professional advice. I regularly share my knowledge and recommend useful literature to assistant judges in courts. A sort of club for human rights experts has been created”; “Those of my colleagues who used to be skeptical about using ECtHR case law are now asking me when the course is going to accept a new group.”
The participants note fewer instances of inappropriate references to ECtHR case law in their practice. “The results of our studies are like language learning – we used to apply ECtHR caw law thoughtlessly and without actual understanding, but now there is such an understanding among us and our colleagues.”
The lawyers took part in the preparation of UHHRU report on the risks for lawyers working under conditions of the armed conflict in Ukraine (to be published). Work is ongoing to prepare two new courses on the protection of lawyers’ rights as well as on IHL. We plan to work together Association for the Development of Judicial Self-Government of Ukraine and to form a group of trainers from among the course’s alumni.
As the participants remarked, “A network of like-minded people was created, for providing support in spite of the criticism and lack of understanding/non-acceptance of progressive and bold solutions and ideas”; “The course stimulates us to keep at it and never stop improving our skills in this area”; “The fear is gone. Instead, there is a realization that you are not alone in the system, that you can express your true opinions. Now I am describing things that are different from the usual judicial practice and I’m not afraid of higher authorities”; “The training left me with good impressions about judges and brought back my faith in human rights.”
The conducted on-site workshop is part of the training course “Human Rights Standards in the Practice of Lawyers and Judges” implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union. The course’s overall objective is to promote the observance and protection of human rights and freedoms in Ukraine, and the implementation of international human rights standards in the national legal system by strengthening the professional capacity of practicing litigators.
This event was made possible thanks to the Human Rights in Action project implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union with the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The American people, through USAID, has been providing economic and humanitarian assistance around the world for more than 50 years. In Ukraine, USAID assistance is provided in such areas as economic development, democracy and governance, healthcare and social sector. Since 1992, the United States Agency for International Development has provided Ukraine with technical and humanitarian assistance worth 1.8 billion dollars.
Learn more about USAID programs in Ukraine on USAID official website http://ukraine.usaid.gov and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/USAIDUkraine