The nation’s parliament has allowed taking suspects under house arrest and hold question witnesses and suspects via Internet, KW wrote this week.The Verkhovna Rada approved a new edition of the Criminal Code. 271 legislators voted in favor of the bill, though there were only around 50 deputies in the session hall. Despite this violation, even the lawyers of the opposition parties acknowledged the importance of this act. For the first time since 1960 the government took a step away from the repressive Soviet criminal procedure system towards a more liberal and humane model. The lawmakers singled out five main novelties that will be introduced in the new code.
The sponsors of the new code are convinced, among other things, that there will be more verdicts of “not guilty” after the bill is passed. At the moment, their share in Ukraine is below 1%, while in European countries this figure is 20-30%.
The authors of the code propose abandoning the practice of holding suspects in pre-trial detention centers. Instead, they propose introducing a new pre-trial limitation known as house arrest. This means that upon a court order those suspected of a crime will not be allowed to leave home during the investigation. Police will fulfill the court order by visiting the suspect on a regular basis and the suspect’s home will be under surveillance by video cameras 24/7.
“There is no doubt that the new Criminal Code is quite progressive. However, it seems to me that before the code was sent for review by the Venice Commission it was more rational and balanced. Then the most powerful law enforcement bodies made their best efforts to win back as much turf in this code as possible, and succeeded. As a result, the participants of the process remained the most vulnerable and unprotected and defense was not given the necessary powers,” Stepan Havrysh, PhD in Legal Sciences and former First Deputy Secretary General of the NSDC told KW
“Against expectations, the prosecutor’s office was unexpectedly given a major role – it acts as a prosecutor and the head of investigations simultaneously. At the same time, the courts were not given a truly unbiased role, as the bill’s sponsors have intended, but will continue working on the prosecution side,” Havrysh said.