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For Dignity and Human Rights in Ukraine

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Public statement of the legal aid system team on violation of basic principles during the competition for the position of the Director of the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision

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Respect for dignity, transparency and accountability and nonpartisanship are the values that the legal aid system has been fighting for over last five years. We have won public trust and the right to exist during the Revolution of Dignity when we were practically the only public institution protecting the rights of civil activists.

We believe that the way the competition for the selection of the new Director of the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision was held undermines basic principles underlying our work, ruins trust in the system and ultimately deprives hundreds of thousands of people, our customers, of the right to justice. This is an outrage upon dignity and human rights.

The legal aid system in Ukraine is an institution that serves citizens of Ukraine. It is financed by taxpayers and is accountable primarily to society. We do not have the right to allow for even the slightest doubt in our values and cannot let ruin something that took arduous work and a lot of efforts to build trust for. We consider this fight our personal Revolution of Dignity for millions of citizens we serve.

We appeal to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine with a proposal concerning:

-       cancellation of the results of the competition;

-       change of the procedure of appointment of the Director of the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision to the transfer appropriate powers to the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine;

-       a new objective and transparent competition with the balanced participation of human rights organizations and international partners, in particular, using an already existing practice of public competitions in the legal aid system;

-       professional public discussions to enhance the independence of the legal aid system and minimize political influence on it, which should be followed by decision making by the Government of Ukraine.

We turn to the public with a call to protect and preserve the system of legal aid in Ukraine.

For the day (04 June 2017) 222 team members of the Centre, 64 Centres for Free Secondary Legal Aid Provision, and 52 non-governmental and human rights organisations supported the free legal aid system in Ukraine.

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Open Statement of the Open Civil Platform for the Development of the Ukrainian Free Legal Aid System as well as public observers for the competitive selection for the position of Director of the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision

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This statement once again emphasizes how important it is for the legal aid system not to lose its meaning, human rights mission, constitutional content, values and human-centrism.

Legal aid is social responsibility of the state and therefore of each and every taxpayer.

In 2016, the Council of Europe evaluated the legal aid system in Ukraine in the light of standards and best practices of the Council of Europe. In particular, it was noted that the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision and its Director have an acceptable level of independence and responsibility for the use of its resources and staff with respect to the executive power and the parliament.

However, it was recommended for the Director of the Coordination Centre to be appointed through an individual professional evaluation during an independent selection for public positions and that the period for which the Director is appointed, grounds and procedure of his or her dismissal were fixed in the Law “On Free Legal Aid”.

The competition for the position of Director of the Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision was conducted, in our opinion, with significant procedural and substantive violations and faults, and it calls into question the desire of the Ministry to proceed from the principle of the independence of the system, human rights, interests and freedoms.

We remind that the Minister of Justice agreed to hold the competition under pressure of over twenty reputable human rights organizations and civil society leaders who issued a joint statement.

Unfortunately, we cannot consider this competition valid because of signs of administrative influence of the Ministry on the procedure under which the competition was held as well as in the course of implementation and assessment of results.

In particular, we emphasize on the following:

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Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko and Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch Sign Technical Assistance Plan to Strengthen Defense Advocacy

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111111110On March 31, Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko and Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch signed a joint action plan for the implementation of United States’ technical assistance to Ukraine through a new project titled, Strengthening Defense Advocacy in Ukraine.

The project aims to strengthen the potential of defense attorneys providing free legal aid in criminal proceedings by improving conditions for professional development while simultaneously supporting the work of partnering legal aid NGOs.

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Criminal Procedure Code and Procedure on Notifying the Centers for FSLA Provision Violated by Law Enforcement Officials on 3,085 Occasions: Summary Analysis 2016

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17927053,805 instances of violation of the criminal procedure legislation and the Procedure on Notifying the Centers for FSLA Provision on Apprehensions, Administrative Arrests and Application of the Remand in Custody as a Measure of Restraint (hereinafter the Notification Procedure) committed by the law enforcement officials have been identified on the basis of all communications submitted to the regional centers for FSLA provision and the information received from lawyers providing secondary legal aid. The relevant detailed analysis is presented below.

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The Most Vulnerable Social Groups’ Access to Legal Aid: Amendments to the Law “On Legal Aid”

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14 07 01On December 21, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the Law of Ukraine “On the High Council of Justice”, effectively amending the Law of Ukraine “On Legal Aid” by expanding the eligibility people which have the right to free secondary legal aid. Soon, the categories of persons entitled to free secondary legal assistance will significantly expand through the law on the most vulnerable social groups.

New internally displaced persons, persons applying for displaced status, and persons applying for the status of war veterans, including combatants, are now deemed eligible categories of persons with the right to legal aid. Secondary legal aid will be available to war veterans, including combatants, as well as others persons who are subject to the Law of Ukraine “On the status of war veterans, guarantees of their social protections.” Until now, the latter law had only provided war veterans with legal assistance concerning social security issues, but it has now been expanded to permit them to ask questions of any legal matter.

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Development and administration: Serhiy Trotsenko | admin@ legalaid.gov.ua