To judge in absentia: what the changes in UPK, which are considered by the Rada

On February 23 the Verkhovna Rada adopted in first reading draft law No. 5610 – changes in Criminal processually Code of Ukraine regarding the correspondence of justice. The project was supported by 233 deputies of Ukraine.

First of all, these changes are intended to bring to a logical conclusion of the criminal case against former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his associates, said the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko, presenting the bill in Parliament. Thus, according to Lutsenko, the adoption of this law will allow in March to begin the procedure of conviction Yanukovych on charges of treason.


“119 criminal proceedings are ready to be transferred to the courts in case of improvement of the current law. Your solution is waiting for Yanukovych, Zakharchenko and his entire team, including those who are suspected in the shooting of Maidan”, – Lutsenko added.



Previously to amend the law on in absentia justice of people’s deputies called on the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko.

“We can’t wait months, because April 15 ends the law, and they again slip from the responsibility. This is our firm and insistent request this week to vote on the law that allows to transfer the case Yanukovych to the court,” – said Poroshenko at a meeting with families of Heroes of Heavenly hundred on 20 February 2017.

Note that we are talking about changes that were adopted by Parliament in may 2016, and allow in absentia to hold a consequence on those who is wanted for more than six months, evading criminal proceedings, or whose presence abroad is confirmed. These changes will remain in effect until April 15, 2017 and may be interpreted by the courts as selective justice.

I assume these changes

Presenting the draft law in the Parliament, Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko declared that the current version of the law on absentee conviction gives the lawyers of Yanukovych and other “loopholes” in order to stop the case in court or to tighten them.

The Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuri Lutsenko is the bill No. 5610 in paramenta. Video:Youtube/the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine

To date, the amendments would add to the articles are subject to in absentia conviction, article 255 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – “creation of a criminal organization.”

“Now, that article there, unfortunately, making it impossible penalty for economic and war crimes. Secondly, the act introduces a specific rule of calculation of time, making it impossible for the efforts of the lawyers of Yanukovych and his company in the European courts. Third, it prolongs the act after April 15, and does not set clear deadline. The effect of the present law, from April 15 through April 15 may be considered European and Ukrainian courts as selective justice. We remove this rule and the proposed establishment of a State Bureau of investigation. As I understand it, it will be created this year”, – said Lutsenko.

In addition, the explanatory note to the draft law mentions the following changes:

– The period of familiarization with the materials of preliminary investigation shall not be counted towards the total period of pre-trial investigation;

The maximum detention period will be increased to 18 months (when there is a particularly difficult criminal proceedings concerning particularly serious crimes);

– Allowed the possibility of extending the period of pre-trial investigations to 18 months (this applies to proceedings in relation to particularly serious crimes);

– If there is a special trial of the other defendants, the judicial review at the request of the Prosecutor may be in a criminal proceedings;

– A person who is outside Ukraine can call to the court sending the summons at the last known place of residence or location and with the obligatory publication in mass media and on the official website of the body that carries out pre-trial investigation. It is important that after the publication of the agenda in the media it will be assumed that the person is duly acquainted with its contents.

– New procedure of calculation of periods of pre-trial investigation in the case of associations of criminal proceedings, which were investigated in one period of time involves the absorption of the shorter big. For those who investigated at different time – periods are summarized within the longest of them.

– In proceedings for particularly serious crimes committed by a group of persons, the possibility of the transaction, if the suspects pleads guilty and gives information about other criminal activities of the group.

With the provisions of the bill do not agree all

Since the publication of the text of the draft law of opinion around its norms are divided. So, according to experts of the Reanimation package of reforms, the rules of this project contradict the Constitution of Ukraine and the European Convention on human rights, and significantly narrows the constitutional rights of citizens of Ukraine.

The RPR experts say that the increase of pretrial investigation from 12 to 18 months violates the principle of reasonable time of criminal proceedings and will give the opportunity to hold people in indefinite status of suspects for a long time. Increased period of detention to 18 months will lead to suspects whose guilt has not been proven to be much longer stay in jail.

In addition, RPR noted that the draft law does not clearly define the concept of “the most important criminal proceedings”, and the delivery of the agenda through publications violates the human right to be timely informed of the charges.

“Now every day law-abiding citizens will be forced to check information about yourself in the media – say in RPR, – Proposed by bill No. 5610 changes in UPK – the counter-reform of criminal proceedings”.

The project can modify

However, it should be noted that during its submission of the draft law at the Parliament session the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko said that some of the proposed rules can be waived. In particular, he noted the rule on service of the summons through the media and on the extension of the investigation to 18 months.

“As the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, state at once that I agree with removal of this law rules on the law of the public Prosecutor to continue the investigation to 18 months. We will dispense with this rule. Enough the resolution of other articles. The GPU does not need a continuation of the investigation to 18 months, which is so often asked some MPs. Also we are ready to abandon the rules on the presentation of the agenda through the media. The current procedure we are also satisfied, because we already apply current year”, – said Lutsenko.

As of today, bill No. 5610 adopted in the first reading in Parliament. In the future, MPs should take it as a whole.