UBA Makes Statement against Pressure on Lawyers

2016-07-08

KYIV — 8 July 2016. The Ukrainian Bar Association makes a declaration regarding inadvisability of searches in offices of lawyers that protect clients' interests in criminal proceedings.

5 July 2016, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) conducted a number of searches in offices and homes of the lawyers who provide legal support in so-called "Gas Case" against Oleksandr Onishchenko. Particularly, the investigators searched the office of lawyer Andrii Tsyhankov.

The NABU is a public law-enforcement body that bases its activity primarily on the rule of law, law compliance, respect and protection of everyone's rights and freedoms.

We believe that such actions of law-enforcement bodies are in a serious violation of the right to protection guaranteed by the Ukrainian Constitution. Such actions interfere the work of attorneys and negates the final objective of all public bodies — protect the interests of citizens.

Professional rights and guarantees of attorneys are reinforced in the Constitution of Ukraine, Law of Ukraine "About Advocacy and Attorney Activities", Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine and are generally accepted by all democratic countries.

According to the mentioned acts, advocacy activity is realized through the prohibition of any interference, particularly, it is prohibited to get access to items or documents that are exchanged between lawyers and clients. Also, attorneys shall not be equated to their clients and cases in the course of professional activity.

The violation of these guarantees goes against the state of law principles.

The NABU, conducting the searches of lawyers premises, poses great risks to the fundamental principle of advocacy activity — the guarantees of client-lawyer privilege and constitutional institution of advocacy.

The Ukrainian Bar Association encourages the Ukrainian law-enforcement authorities and representatives of judicial power to refrain from actions that violate the guarantees of attorney professional activity and punish the malefactors.

We demand to stop the systematic violations, as well as practice of pressure on and harassment of the attorneys who protect client interests in criminal proceedings — otherwise the whole advocacy profession loses its sense.

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