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Geographic coverage: Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa
Project duration: August 2018 – January 2019
Briefly about the project
The overall objective of the project “Zakhysnyk” is to increase the access to justice for vulnerable groups. Its specific objectives are to improve the quality of legal services provided by defense lawyers registered in the free legal aid system and to strengthen the capacity of the local free legal aid bureaus in three pilot regions in implementing their mandate effectively. The project will be implemented for the period of 22 August 2018 till 22 January 2019. It is financed in the framework of the Council of Europe Project “Continued Support to the Criminal Justice Reform in Ukraine” funded by the Danish Government.
Among three pilot regions covered by the project are Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions. Overall it will impact lives of 4,5 million people inhabiting these territories, specifically tackling members of vulnerable groups (persons with disabilities, children, IDPs, refugees, minorities, etc.). It is aimed at enhancing access to justice through improved quality of legal services and strengthened capacity of legal aid bureaus. Main project stakeholders are legal aid centres/bureaus, Regional Departments of MIA, Regional office of the General Prosecutors’ Office, common jurisdiction and specialised courts, NGOs active in legal aid field in Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions.
Among planned activities are elaboration of region specific reports on access to justice for vulnerable groups in pilot regions with focus on criminal cases, carrying out training activities for lawyers and organisation of seminars and an international conference aimed at increasing knowledge and skills of lawyers and enhancing co-operation of state authorities responsible for ensuring access to justice
First conference within the frameworks of the project “Zakhysnyk” was held in Odesa on 2-3 November 2018.
The conference was organized by Civic organization “Desyate Kvitnya” which is implementing the project “Zakhysnyk” funded by Council of Europe.
The conference represented a forum for discussion among representatives of Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision, Regional Departments of the MIA, regional office of the General Prosecutor’s’ Office, courts, NGOs active in legal aid field in Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions. The participants had an opportunity to deliberate on the issues of access to justice for vulnerable (people with special needs, children, IDPs, refugees, minorities, etc.) groups in criminal cases. Many of participants found prospects for the own professional development in complicated cases concerning legal aid provision to vulnerable groups. Lawyers who came to the conference were motivated to exchange their professional experience, negotiate on the current issues concerning legal aid provision to vulnerable groups and learn about foreign experience on this matter.
Among conference guests and participants were representatives of Council of Europe Ketevan Tskhomelidze and Oleksandr Dvornichenko, representatives of such supreme bodies as Supreme Court, Coordination Centre for Legal Aid Provision, High Council of Justice, Ukrainian National Bar Association, Secretariat of the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Monitoring Office of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, National Police of Ukraine.
International expert from European Court on Human Rights and international experts from Moldova, Estonia and Lithuania made presentation for Ukrainian colleagues and shared their experience in legal aid provision in criminal cases.
During the first day of the Conference the President of Civic Organiztion “Desyate Kvitnya” Maryna Kurochkina welcomed the participants and Project “Zakhysnyk” experts Leila Zhdanova and Oleksii Khmara presented the aims, methodology and results of the legal research “Access to justice for vulnerable groups in criminal cases in Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa region”. Afterwards there was an open discussion on possible ways of solving the study issues with conference participants.
The project experts acknowledged Ukraine has made significant efforts to ensure its citizens access to justice in general and in criminal process in particular. The state adopted the necessary national legislation and created a system of secondary legal aid bureaus. Nevertheless, they raised many ongoing issues concerning the accessibility to justice for vulnerable group in order to get the feedback from the conference participants to find common solutions and recommendations on further development of legal aid provision to vulnerable groups in Odesa, Kherson and Mykolaiv regions.
Afterwards the conference participants and guests were pleased to observe the presentation made by Dmytro Tretyakov (Senior Lawyer, European Court on Human Rights Registry). Mr. Tretyakov introduced the main outlines of the ECHR case law concerning Ukraine stressing the attention on criminal cases specifically in his presentation «Right to a Fair Trial: European Court on Human Rights Practice concerning Ukraine».
The introduction to the foreign countries legal aid provision experience started with the presentation of Lilian Darii (Trainer and Director of the module in the National Institute of Justice of the Republic of Moldova). From practical perspective, Mr.Darii explained the peculiarities of legal aid provision in Moldova. He pointed out that comparing legal aid system in Ukraine and Moldova is therefore difficult due the number of people and countries size. However Mr. Darii attempted to provide a detailed description of Moldavian legal aid system willing to share the beneficial legal reforms taking place in Moldova.
The second day of the conference was devoted to the presentations of international experts from Estonia and Lithuania. Anti Aasmaa (Advocate from Estonia) set out the national legal aid system. As a successful advocate specializing on criminal and civil cases when the legal aid is guaranteed by state, Mr. Aasmaa provided the statistics and overall outcome of the legal aid provision in Estonia.
The expert from Lithuania, Anzelika Baneviciene (Director of State-Guaranteed Legal Aid Service in Lithuania) described the structure of legal aid system and outlined the quality control standards that advocates and legal aid bureaus meet in selection the advocates. Mrs. Banevieciene’s presentation was focused not only on Lithuanian, but also on international experience.
We are very thankful to all experts and guests for active participation! The conference ended on a positive note and we hope for the further cooperation. Project “Zakhysnyk” team is already working on managing seminars and webinars that will be focused on specific issues concerning legal aid provision to vulnerable groups. We are looking forward upcoming meetings and we would welcome all members of the law society in Ukraine!
The regional seminar ‘’Access to justice for vulnerable groups in criminal cases in Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions’’ was held on 30th November by Civic organization “Desyate Kvitnya” with financial support of the Council of Europe.
The conference represented a forum for discussion among representatives of the courts, prosecutor’s offices, police, legal aid bureaus, bar associations, penitentiary institutions and non-governmental organizations in Mykolaiv city and region. The participants had an opportunity to deliberate on the issues of access to justice for vulnerable groups (people with special needs, children, IDPs, refugees, minorities, etc.) in criminal cases.
The invited lecturer Mykola Pashkovsky, Ph.D. in Law, a member of the Advisory Council at the Supreme Court of Ukraine presented his report on “International Standards of Human Right Protection in the Criminal Process”.
The speech addressed the following issues:
- The concept of human rights as a practical concept;
- European mechanism of human right protection;
- European standards of human rights in criminal justice;
- Principles and criteria for effective investigation;
- General standards of detention;
- Concept of fair trial;
- Equal equality of arms;
- Standards of evidence admissibility;
- European Court of Human Rights practice regarding the reliability of evidence and establishing the violation;
- Application of the international standards during the justice administration.
The subject of the previous speaker was extended by Andriy Leshchenko, lawyer, who presented a speech on “Peculiarities of providing legal assistance to refugees, stateless people and foreigners in extradition cases”.
In particular, Mr. Andriy addressed the following issues:
- Human rights categories in the “state-human” field;
- Basic legal acts in the field of extradition to the law enforcement agencies;
- Crimes serving as grounds for extradition;
- Bodies that carry out the extradition checks and make extradition decisions;
- Grounds for denial of extradition.
Considering the focus of the “Defender” project, the organizers also informed the participants of the regional seminars about certain psychological aspects of working with vulnerable citizen groups. In particular, the head of “Planet of Good People” Charity Fund Maxym Jum informed the participants about the specifics of social and psychological support of roms in the judgment procedure. He also addressed the following issues:
- The difficult living conditions of roms;
- The influence of the absence of identification documents;
- What causes fear of public authorities;
- General targeting on illegal ways of solving problems;
- The impact of poor quality of provided legal services.
In addition, a psychologist, Anzhelika Zhukova, introduced the audience to the reasons of professional burnout and recommendations about overcoming. In particular:
- Factors that lead to the exhaustion of personal resources and can lead to burnout;
- Reaction to frustration in a conflict situation;
- Signs of professional burnout and it`s prevention;
- Ways to relieve stress.
Many of participants evaluated the seminar as useful for the own professional development in complicated cases concerning legal aid provision to vulnerable groups. Lawyers who came to the conference were motivated to exchange their professional experience, negotiate on the current issues concerning legal aid provision to vulnerable groups and learn about foreign experience on this matter.
We are very thankful to all experts and guests for active participation! The seminar ended on a positive note and we hope for the further cooperation. Project “Defender” team is already working on managing webinars and closing conference, which will be held in Odesa on 18th January 2019 and will be focused on specific issues concerning legal aid provision to vulnerable groups. We are looking forward upcoming meetings and we would welcome all members of the law society in Ukraine!