UNHCR: Ukraine must ensure that judges are not subjected to political influence

15:00, 30 July 2013
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The UN Human Rights Committee has urged the Ukrainian government to ensure that the Criminal Code of Ukraine meets the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular article 365, which was used to convict former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to the Official web site of Yulia Tymoshenko.

"The Committee also expresses particular concern about allegations of politically-motivated prosecutions of elected politicians, such as former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, for excess of authority or official power pursuant to article 365 of the Criminal Code. The State party should ensure that prosecutions under article 365 of the Criminal Code fully comply with the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," reads the concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee on the seventh period report by Ukraine on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Committee also noted that despite various steps taken by Ukraine to reform the judiciary, it is concerned that judges still remain vulnerable to outside pressure. "The Committee is further concerned that the State party still does not fully ensure the independence of judges from the executive and legislative branches of government and that their status is not adequately secured by law. The State party should ensure that judges are not subjected to any form of political influence in their decision-making."

The document notes that the Covenant is an integral part of the domestic legal system and that its provisions may be directly invoked in court. "The Committee regrets, however, the very limited information on cases in which the provisions of the Covenant have been invoked or applied by the State party’s courts of law."

The UN Human Rights Committee concluded its consideration of the seventh periodic report of Ukraine on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights at the 108th session that was held in Geneva, Switzerland, on July 8-26. Nazar Kulchytskhyy, the Government Agent before the European Court of Human Rights who presented the report on behalf of Ukraine, avoided answering any questions concerning Yulia Tymoshenko.

During the presentation of the report on July 9, a Committee expert asked the representative of the Ukrainian government to provide the underlying rationale behind article 365 of the Criminal Code, under which Yulia Tymoshenko had been tried, and to explain why had sanctions for abuse of power without a personal motive been more severe than the sanctions for abuse of power with personal motive? Nazar Kulchytskhyy said that answers to these questions would be provided in writing.

During the trial in the gas case, the court failed to establish that former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was guided by personal motives during the conclusion of gas contracts with Russia in 2009. The ruling of Pechersk District Court of Kyiv finds that the personal motive was "the desire to create a positive image of an effective head of state capable of resolving the gas crisis in relations with Russia, and at the same time supporting previous statements about the need to remove RosUkrEnergo as an intermediary in the supply of natural gas to Ukraine."

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