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Current Rule of Law Programs in Ukraine

Access to Justice and Human Rights

Combating xenophobia and racism

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) strives to strengthen the prosecution of hate crimes, to increase protection of victims of such crimes and to raise public awareness about and tolerance for ethnic and minority populations. In Ukraine, ABA ROLI works to build the capacity of government and legal actors to respond to xenophobia and racism, and to increase the exposure of the general public to educational and awareness programs on tolerance, diversity and non-discrimination, with a particular focus on youth.

ABA ROLI’s approach to combat xenophobia, racism and hate crime has four components. First, we cooperate with the Ministry of Interior, the General Prosecutor’s Office and their training and research institutions to support the development of standardized investigative guidelines that are in par with international standards. The guidelines will be used as the basis for specialized training modules and materials, which will in turn be used to train trainers.

Second, we are strengthening the capacity of key government actors to monitor and report on racism and xenophobia. We assist an inter-ministerial working group in evaluating the current system for reporting and documenting hate crime. We also help research and analyze comparable international models. Additionally, ABA ROLI is working to establish an advisory council—comprising members of civil society, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), religious and ethnic minorities, and governmental bodies—to advise government agencies on policy issues and to address race-based crimes in partnership with the courts and law enforcement agencies.

Third, we are improving the capacity of lawyers to represent hate-crime victims. We are creating substantive law training programs and resource materials on relevant legislation and criminal code provisions, including materials on the preparation of cases for review by the European Court of Human Rights. ABA ROLI is also assisting with the development of national and regional coalitions of advocacy NGOs and legal clinics to assist victims and to advocate against discrimination and xenophobia.

Fourth, ABA ROLI is undertaking public awareness activities to foster cross-cultural exchange and to promote tolerance, diversity and non-discrimination, especially among the youth. We provide financial support to student discussion groups, ethnic campus organizations and campaigns on inter-cultural issues to improve the communication with, and understanding of, ethnic and minority students. Student group subgrantees are required to maintain blogs and encouraged to follow each other’s blogs. ABA ROLI will assist with the development of a page on one of the regionally popular social networking websites (such as,, and to serve as a platform for information on student group projects on issues of hate crime, tolerance and xenophobia. The page will provide guidelines for organizing diversity activities in schools and host related publications. To promote sustainability of the projects, ABA ROLI will develop a mechanism for a permanent liaison or committee comprising representatives of local law enforcement agencies, student associations, and ethnic and minority groups.

In partnership with the International Organization for Migration, ABA ROLI will also develop and implement a high-profile public awareness campaign, incorporating images of key Ukrainian sports and cultural icons to be displayed on billboards in five cities. These will be supplemented by public service announcements on diversity and hate crime. Furthermore, ABA ROLI will support a student-created play based on several real-life stories of ethnic minorities. The play—which will be available in Ukrainian, Russian and English—will be broadcast on regional and national TV channels. It will also be performed at universities, schools, city councils and embassies, and made available on the Diversity Initiative website. Finally, we are developing a YouTube video essay competition on discrimination and intolerance to encourage technology savvy youth to reflect on diversity in their own communities.

Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking

Developing defense bar

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) Defense Bar Development Program in Ukraine supports justice sector reform through technical legal assistance. As part of the program, ABA ROLI trains defense attorneys through regional defense advocacy schools; supports efforts to create a unified national bar; offers expert opinion and legislative review on pressing criminal justice matters; and helps establish continuing legal education (CLE) for defense attorneys.

The legal profession in Ukraine comprises two large groups of lawyers: (i) advocates whose status and activities are regulated by the Law on the Bar and (ii) entrepreneur lawyers whose status and activities were previously regulated by the Law on Entrepreneurship and are now regulated by the Commercial Code. Currently, there are approximately 30,000 advocates and 40,000 entrepreneur lawyers in the country. While advocates are allowed to represent clients in court in criminal matters, entrepreneur lawyers may not. Under the current system, advocates are supervised by regional qualification disciplinary commissions (RQDCs). Under the guidance of the High Qualifications Commission of Advocates of Ukraine (HQCA), the RQDCs control entry into the profession, enforce ethical standards and disciplinary procedures and support the professional development of advocates. At least 20 percent of the advocates are members of a self-governing organization, such as the Union of Advocates of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Bar Association, the Union of Lawyers of Ukraine and the Association of Advocates of Ukraine.

While stakeholders have always expected advocates to constantly upgrade their professional skills, until 2011, advocates were not required by law to take continuing legal education. In 2010, the HQCA passed the Regulations for Continuing Legal Education of Advocates, developed with ABA ROLI’s assistance. The regulations, which went into effect in January 2011, oblige all advocates to improve their skills by participating in CLE programs at accredited higher educational institutions, by studying at defense advocacy schools and CLE centers or through distance learning.

ABA ROLI—utilizing Ukrainian and international experts—continues to help the HQCA develop courses to be offered in the five CLE centers in Kyiv, Rivne, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Odessa. ABA ROLI is also working to improve the institutional capacity of the HQCA and of each of the CLE centers. To strengthen CLE, ABA ROLI trains trainers, who then train defense advocates in their respective regions. Trainings cover specialized topics, such as professional ethics, human rights, land law, mediation/restorative justice and criminal procedure.

To further expand CLE opportunities, ABA ROLI created a pilot ethics course to be offered through distance education. ABA ROLI will develop more distance education courses to strengthen the program.

Combating child trafficking

Ukraine is a source, transit and destination country for children trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. The International Organization for Migration reports that four percent of reported trafficking victims in Ukraine are minors. Child trafficking, which reportedly is on the rise, presents special challenges to detectives, investigators and prosecutors. Working with child victims requires specialized training, procedures and tactics, which need to be developmentally appropriate for the ages of the children involved and sensitive to the physical and psychological trauma caused by sexual exploitation and abuse.

To strengthen Ukraine’s limited capacity for handling child trafficking cases, ABA ROLI works with leading academics, governmental and non-governmental stakeholders to identify components missing from currently available law enforcement training, and it created an expert working group to develop a specialized training curriculum, specialized courses and a guidebook on investigating child trafficking. Using the new course materials, ABA ROLI is organizing trainings for trainers, who will later train investigators in three regions.

Combating cyber crime

ABA ROLI is working to strengthen the capacity of existing Ministry of Interior (MOI) cyber crime investigative units by developing a training manual that will be used by the MOI’s training institutions. ABA ROLI will also help consolidate and formalize existing cyber crime trainings.

ABA ROLI is cooperating with Microsoft Corporation to produce a cyber crime glossary, with definitions for technical terms cyber criminals use, and to help justice sector actors utilize cyber crime technology. The glossary will be distributed to investigators, judges and prosecutors, and will be updated periodically.

ABA ROLI is also developing and piloting cyber crime courses for current MOI investigators. The courses will reflect international standards and will cover several areas, such as money laundering, software infringement, child-pornography distribution and bank fraud. To help enhance the MOI cyber crime units’ effectiveness, ABA ROLI will also supply the MOI with computers.

Reforming law enforcement

Our Law Enforcement Reform Program supports efforts to bring the law enforcement system into compliance with European and international standards. We have supported various stakeholders, including the MOI, the Prosecutor General’s Office, Defense Counsel and National Security, customs, tax and border control agencies to enhance their competence and effectiveness.

In 2008, Ukraine adopted an action plan for comprehensive reforms of its criminal justice and law enforcement systems. To assist with its implementation, we supported reform efforts by MOI bodies and the Pre-Trial Investigative Services. In 2010, ABA ROLI helped establish an inter-ministerial working group to draft a law on pre-trial investigation bodies and the status of investigators. ABA ROLI also drew upon national and international experts to compile supplemental green book and white book on pre-trial investigation—the former outlining problems the working group identified, the latter detailing recommended solutions.

Legal Profession Reform

Legal profession and public advocacy

Through tenders and sub-grant competitions, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) provides operational sub-grants to Ukrainian advocacy non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and university legal clinics, which offer pro bono legal services to the disadvantaged and underserved populations. Currently, ABA ROLI supports and maintains an expanding network of 32 legal consultation centers. The centers serve vulnerable groups, such as the disabled, homeless, elderly, incarcerated, HIV-positive and rural poor.

Additionally, through roundtables, workshop trainings and media campaigns, ABA ROLI’s partners engage in advocacy and public awareness efforts, including the reform of the communal housing management system, improvement of conditions in detention facilities, elimination of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS and the wider application of mediation in criminal cases involving minors. Also, with the goal of promoting public legal awareness, ABA ROLI has supported initiatives of the Ostroh and Donetsk legal clinics to provide trainings for high school teachers on using interactive teaching methodologies to teach the basics of law to high school students.

To ensure quality of legal services rendered by partner NGOs and legal clinics, ABA ROLI continues to provide systematic bi-monthly professional development trainings to its partners’ lawyers on the most relevant issues of substantive and procedural law, as well as on practical legal skills.

Institution building

An important component of ABA ROLI’s efforts is providing technical assistance for institutional capacity-building to promote long-term stability and sustainability of its legal aid clinics and NGO advocacy partner organizations.

An institution-building advisor (IBA) assists organizations by providing long-range strategic planning and project management techniques, models and materials. The IBA works with an organization both individually and through combined workshops on various elements including organizational assessment, development and evaluation. The IBA may also be used as a neutral facilitator for internal meetings and sessions aimed at planning future activities or solving institutional problems. Services provided through the IBA include organizational assessments, strategic planning, best practices and good governance, project design and implementation, financial planning and management, human resource management, operational and systems management, fundraising, media  and public relations, marketing, advocacy and constituency-building, monitoring and evaluation techniques, individual mentorship and training-for-trainers.

Among the methods and approaches utilized by the IBA are trainings, seminars and workshops, facilitation of meetings and/or planning sessions, tailored individual consultations or group work, mentoring, provision of materials and practical examples, and promoting networking and coalitions of specialized topical or regional interests among ABA ROLI partners.

In addition, ABA ROLI disseminates to its partners a bi-monthly newsletter covering pertinent issues of organizational development, upcoming training events, relevant articles, and links to funding opportunities. ABA ROLI also conducts bi-monthly organizational development trainings for managers of its past and present sub-grantee partners. Since November 2006, the institution building program has conducted regular trainings on important topics, such as strategic project management, monitoring and evaluation, financial management, and human resource management for NGOs. The topics for organizational development trainings are selected based on needs assessment through the Sustainability Index, which is periodically conducted and updated by the IBA.