Ed­i­tors’ Note

Kyiv Post Legal Quarterly - - Contents -

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But if it is broke, as Ukraine's crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem is, how to fix it? Does so­ci­ety start from scratch or sim­ply fo­cus on a few ar­eas at a time? These are the ques­tions that Ukraini­ans are still wrestling with, nearly 24 years af­ter the col­lapse of the Soviet Union The U.S.S.R.'S half-life is prov­ing to be way too long, and the le­gal sys­tem pro­vides one of the best ex­am­ples of how much dam­age was in­flicted dur­ing those 70 years.

Ba­sic le­gal con­cepts are ei­ther not ap­pre­ci­ated or in force here.

Prob­a­ble cause – It still feels like a so­ci­ety where po­lice can take peo­ple away in the dead of night on any pre­text.

Pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence un­til proven guilty – Sus­pects can be sub­ject to damn­ing pre-trial pub­lic­ity. Putting de­fen­dants in court­room cages an­nounces to the world: This is a guilty per­son. Lengthy pre-trial de­ten­tion as­sumes guilt and ru­ins lives.

Plea bar­gains – These come in handy in get­ting lower-level sus­pects to turn state's ev­i­dence against top-level sus­pects, in mur­ders and in fi­nan­cial crimes, and also in en­sur­ing jus­tice is done with­out lengthy and costly tri­als. I un­der­stand plea bar­gains are hap­pen­ing in Ukraine, but not nearly as of­ten as they should.

Right to a public trial by a jury of one's peers – This is sim­ply not hap­pen­ing in Ukraine's ju­di­cial sys­tem. Po­lit­i­cally-ap­pointed pros­e­cu­tors still de­cide it all, or too much, when it comes to com­mand­ing cor­rupt­ible and sub­servient judges. The bot­tom line is that politi­cians don't want to give up con­trol, through ap­pointed pros­e­cu­tors, judges and po­lice, of who goes to jail and who doesn't in Ukrainian so­ci­ety.

Right to a speedy trial – This is flouted through lengthy pre-trial de­ten­tion, big de­lays in tri­als and in­ces­sant po­lit­i­cal ma­nip­u­la­tion of in­ves­ti­ga­tions. It isn't swift and it isn't jus­tice.

Mariana Antonovych Kyiv Post Le­gal Af­fairs Re­porter All of our con­tacts are avail­able online at http://www.kyivpost.com/con­tacts/

Mark Rachkevych Kyiv Post Editor-at-large

Brian Bon­ner Kyiv Post Chief Editor

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