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23 September 2017
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Besides Police, whole justice system needs reform

On November 7, 2015, the Law of Ukraine On the national police came into force instead of the Law On Militia. So it’s all offifical now: the police began their work.

The authorities use the reform of the law enforcement agencies as an example of successful reforms implemented today, as well as an excuse virtually for all other mistakes and failures. On a November 8 TV show Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk focused the citizens’ attention on the fact that the government successfully had implemented the law enforecement reform, and all subsequent reforms will be put to life as successfully, it only needs a little time.

To be fair, the new police officers who came out on the streets a few months ago, really pleased with their professionalism. They responded more quickly to the calls, behaved more professionally, were honest and acted in good faith, and proved to be much smarter than the employees of former “militia.”

However, the reform has not been completed. The militia staff did not transform into professional police officers, as if by magic, in one night; they are formally just “acting police.”

A long period of re-certification of former militia staff is still to come. Those who pass the tests will be granted an opportunity to serve in the new police. One of the officials joked on his Facebook that, if there are acting police officers, let there also be the “acting citizens”.

The main reason for the failure of the law enforcement reform is the lack of professional staff and low motivation of potential candidates to come serve in the police. To date, the staff of the former militia, in particular, ex-traffic inspection and militia investigators, district officers have proved incompetent. They perform their duties formally, do their work superficially, are inattentive to the people and to the details of the cases they must investigate into. Besides, plenty of them aim to obtain illegal benefits.

For example, we are seeing numerous failures and slip-ups in the work of prosecutors in criminal proceedings, due to their exceptionally poor training, high workload and a formal, irresponsible approach to the job.

There are cases when prosecutors submit to the court the documents which indicate another crime than that the suspect is charged with, or hold irrelevant data, or are simply copypasted from some previous cases.

In one of the hearings considering the measure of restraint the judge found out that the case lacked a notice of suspicion – one of the binding documents. As it turned out, the prosecutor had simply forgot to draft it and hand it to the suspect. There was no way the judge could satisfy the prosecutor’s petition for a pre-trial arrest of the suspect.

But, unfortunately, the judges also don’t always exactly follow the letter of the law. Often, they are on the side of the prosecutors and turn a blind eye on their flaws.

In this context, the proceedings against Hennadiy Korban and Olena Lukash are quite showing. Due to their publicity, they reveal the existing shortcomings of the criminal procedure and may serve as a catalyst for the reform of the legislation on criminal procedure.

Illegal detentions, subjectivity of the court in considering requests of the parties to the criminal proceedings; regardless of the principle of equality of such parties before the law; the restriction of the procedural rights of the defense, and the tilt toward prosecution are only a small part of the drawbacks of the criminal procedure, exposed during the latest high-profile trials against politicians.

The Ukrainians see these, and many other, shortcomings on a daily basis, while remaining virtually defenseless against the system.

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for the appalling state of the law enforcement and judicial systems, is precisely the low level of training of the officials assigned to perform functions of the state – operatives, investigators, prosecutors, and judges.

The only way out of this situation is attracting people who have never worked in this system. Providing high salary, quality social security, as well as effective mechanisms for rotation and real sanctions will prevent these employees from corruption or inactivity.

Viktor Moroz is a managing partner at JSC Suprema Lex

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