February 06, 2014

Statement of ABA President Jim Silkenat Re: Unrest in Ukraine

The American Bar Association (ABA) is deeply concerned about the situation of unrest in Ukraine and credible reports of the excessive use of force by law enforcement authorities against protestors, as well as violence committed by protesters.  The ABA urges an end to the violence on all sides and respect for the rule of law.  

We are encouraged that President Yanukovych has signed legislation revoking controversial anti-demonstration laws and the law on amnesty for those detained during the protests. We ask for a continued peaceful dialogue between the government and the opposition to bring about a swift resolution to the crisis.  

The ABA is troubled by reports that some citizens who have voiced opposition remain imprisoned or missing.  We will follow the trials of those charged with crimes associated with recent events with the hope and expectation that they receive fair trials in keeping with the rule of law. 

We urge the Ukrainian government to consider all possible reforms and constructive actions to uphold the rule of law, and end this crisis.  Preservation of the citizens’ physical integrity, their rights to freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, association, and opinion without interference are of paramount importance in demonstrating respect for international law and Ukraine’s treaty obligations. 

With nearly 400,000 judges, lawyers and associate members from around the globe, the ABA is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession in the United States, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice and to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.   For more information, visit our website at www.americanbar.org.