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November 01, 2009

Ukraine Conference Marks the End of Pre-Trial Detention Program

November 2009

To conclude a pre-trial detention program that began in 2006, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) in Ukraine—in cooperation with the ministries of justice and interior, and the Academy of Judges—conducted an October 20 conference on the use of preventive measures and alternatives to incarceration in criminal proceedings.

Representatives from Ukraine’s parliament, cabinet of ministers, General Prosecutor’s Office, Supreme Court, National Security and Defense Council, the parliament’s Institute of Legislation, the U.S. Embassy, the ministries of justice and interior, and leading non-governmental organizations, attended the conference.

ABA ROLI’s pre-trial detention program, which was launched with a pilot project in Mykolayiv Oblast in partnership with Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice and Supreme Court, focused primarily on promoting increased use of bail instead of incarceration. In 2007–2008, the program evaluated the social and economic costs incurred by the state in association with pre-trial detention. The Institute for Applied Humanitarian Research conducted the evaluation, which resulted in a report onsocial and economic costs of pre-trial detention. The report highlighted the gaps between the Ukrainian practice and international standards, and recommended adopting alternative measures to pre-trial incarceration, including probation and the conditional release of prisoners accused of less serious crimes while they await trial.

Inspired by the latest reports ABA ROLI’s working group on pre-trial detention compiled, the conference discussed legislative regulation pertaining to the application of alternatives to pre-trial incarceration and criteria for choosing preventive measures from the alternatives. Other reports, including a commentary by Monica Platek, long-term Council of Europe expert, on the former reports, were also presented and discussed.

Participants said that alternatives to pre-trial detention should be promoted to minimize risks of human rights violation. Natalia Akhtyrs’ka, the first vice-rector of the Academy of Judges of Ukraine, said, “According to the international and European standards, the main requirement for application of preventive measures in criminal proceedings is the introduction of a rule, according to which pretrial detention can be applied only in exceptional cases.”

Reforming the criminal justice system in Ukraine is critical to securing fundamental individual rights and freedoms, and Ukraine has recently been making significant strides. The pre-trial detention program was supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

To learn more about our work in Ukraine, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <[email protected]>.