Ukrainian Parliament passes penitentiary laws, developed with the support of EUAM

December 17, 2015

On 10 December Verkhovna Rada passed in the first reading draft laws that were developed jointly by the EUAM and the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Penitentiary Issues, chaired by Mr. Yuriy Miroshnychenko.

Vadym Chovgan, EUAM Penitentiary Reform Officer from Administration of Justice Advisory Unit gave his brief comments at the Parliament on the day of the adoption:

Background: The draft laws were initiated by about ten Members of Parliament from different political parties.

These laws are:

The Law on Amendments to the Law on Pre-Trial Detention on Implementing of Some Standards of the Council of Europe (No. 2291а of 06.07.2015)

The law focuses on the implementation of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgements and Committee for the Prevention of Torture recommendations. It includes mainly improvements on enhancing the practical enforcement of the presumption of innocence: making contacts with the outside world a rule and not an exception (visits, phone calls, written correspondence, Internet); setting time frames for human rights restrictions and establishing other procedural guarantees such as providing the copy of a decision; requirement of thorough justification of rights restrictions placed on detained persons, especially regarding contacts with the outside world.

The Law on Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure Regarding Improving Guarantees of Prisoners’ Access to the Court (No. 2255а of 03.07.2015)

The law will resolve the existing problem with identifying the court to which prisoners can/should complain regarding the conditions of their detention. Currently, the Ukrainian procedure is unclear and causes practical obstacles for prisoners. This has recently been confirmed by ECHR (case of Vintman v. Ukraine). It also exempts prisons from paying court fees if they do not have enough money on their accounts.

The Law on Amendments to the Penitentiary (Criminal Executive) Code Concerning the Place of Imprisonment of Inmates (No. 2253а of 03.07.2015)

The law intends to resolve the problem of placing prisoners to serve their sentences in prisons too far from their home (sometimes up to 1000 km). The penitentiary legislation requires avoiding this, however, it is often not respected. The law introduces additional guarantees that would ensure the right to serve the sentence as close as possible to the home or relatives, as it is required by international standards (for example, by European Prison Rules).

In addition, four other penitentiary-related draft laws were adopted in the first reading. EUAM also assisted in their drafting and delivered comments.