Report “Years in Prison Without Judgement”

The report named “Years in prison without judgment: prolonged detention in Ukraine due to violation of reasonable terms of criminal proceedings” was carried out by Open Dialogue Foundation under the auspices of the Ukrainian Bar Association. Final results thereof were presented on 18 August 2016 in Kyiv.

The report was prepared taking into the comments received from attorneys, analysts, NGOs representatives, Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine at the open discussion preceding the study.

The study examined ways to address the accusatory approach in the work of judges and prosecutors and also the existence of tacit obligation to achieve a conviction by all means (even lacking the proof of guilt). Also it provides an analysis of parties’ behaviour in court and organizational shortcomings, which lead to delays in the proceedings.

In particular, more than 2% of criminal proceedings in courts of Ukraine are being considered as long as 2 years, and 4.2% of proceedings - for a period from 6 months to 1 year. As of 1 April 2016 almost 2,000 people were held in jail from 6 months to 1 year, and 958 people - from 1 year and onwards.

Prolonged detention is often a sign of gross violations of the investigation and prosecution authorities used to commit pressure or demand confession. The report presented 17 cases describing cases of citizens held in prison for several years (in some cases - 8 and 10 years) during pretrial investigation. These proceedings include documented cases of torture by the police.

Communicating recommendations to the state authorities regarding the urgent need to ensure the right to reasonable terms in criminal proceedings facilitates drafting on their basis the amendments and additions to the Criminal Procedural Code of Ukraine.