New human rights course developed for Ukrainian judges

Aug 3, 2017

In 2016, Ukraine appeared in the top part of the list of the countries with the highest number of cases registered in the European Court of Human Rights. 35% of the Court’s judgments were about the violations of the right to liberty and security (Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights), according to ECHR statistics. As analysis revealed, one of the reasons behind this disquieting tendency is lack of training on human rights for judiciary.

To fill in this critical gap, UNDP supported the development of a tailor-made course for judges focused on respect of human rights in criminal proceedings. It was introduced at the National School of Judges of Ukraine in July 2017. It’s expected that this new tool could contribute to efficient human rights protection and decrease of cases of illegal detention and torture.

The course aims to enhance the knowledge of judge’s general obligations with regard to human rights protection, including application of the Criminal Procedural Code (CPC) and the European Convention on Human Rights. The course is included in the School’s mandatory curriculum, and to ensure sustainable impact UNDP also helped to train the trainers who can facilitate training sessions in the regions.

The results of the monitoring of the Criminal Procedural Code implementation in Kyiv courts conducted by the Ombudsperson's Office and the Institute of Applied Humanitarian Research in 2015 also pointed at the need for such training tool. These findings as well as implementation of the CPC and the European Convention on Human Rights were also discussed at the regional roundtables for judges, prosecutors, and lawyers organized by the Ombudsperson's Office in partnership with UNDP in Ukraine, the Council of Europe, and the US Embassy in Ukraine. These workshops covered all regions of Ukraine.

A survey conducted among the participants of the regional roundtables further confirmed the knowledge gap to be addressed. Among some 300 judges who took part in this survey, almost 59% responded that, due to unclear procedure, judges improperly implemented their general obligations to ensure human rights protection, and 16% stated that judges do not get comprehensive training in human rights. Also, 15% of the interviewees linked these knowledge gaps with improper application of the European Convention on Human Rights by the judges (See infographics).

This training course is unique as it is designed to meet the needs of investigating judges. This legal specialization was introduced in 2012 when the new CPC was adopted. The challenge lies in the fact that CPC provisions often give guiding principles rather than strict rules. That is why many investigating judges have difficulties applying the CPC algorithms. The UNDP-supported course is a key tool to boost professional capacity of investigating judges. It’s focused on legal praxis and gives hands-on knowledge how to apply human rights standards in your daily practice,” comments Olga Shapovalova, Head of the Department of the National School of Judges. The course will be also included into the programme for newly appointed investigating judges.

The training course was developed  with support of the project ‘Strengthening Capacities of the Ombudsperson’s Office’ funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by UNDP in Ukraine.

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