At the initiative of the Legislative initiatives committee on Lawyers’ Qualification, Ukrainian National Lawyers’ Association, a group of deputies have introduced the Bill to the Parliament. The Bill#4270 of March, 18th , 2016, envisages reform of Article 276 of the Ukrainian Code of Criminal Procedure. The authors urge to establish a clear legal implementation period for notifying the person that he is suspected in committing criminal offence, i.e. not more than 6 months after full information on the given criminal offence had been recorded in the Unified Pre-trial Investigation Register. In case such written notice of suspicion was not provided within the established period, either the Prosecutor or the Examining Magistrate must dismiss the case. Under draft, in exceptional cases, the Examining Magistrate may extend the implementation period for the said written notice of suspicion up to 12 months.
In the explanatory note of the Bill the authors invoke the jurisprudence of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights, which repeatedly highlight that it is crucial to act within reasonable time limits during criminal proceedings. The jurisprudence of the Ukrainian Code of Criminal Procedure however indicates that pre-trial investigation authorities are constantly taking advantage of such legislation flaw, ignoring any reasonable implementation periods for providing written notices of suspicion.
As a result, hundred thousands of people are not bound with any legal status within their case, whether it is suspect or defendant, hence de facto so called artificial procedural restrictions are being imposed on them for years. Besides, merely with the full record in the Unified Pre-trial Investigation Register, without the notice of suspicion, the law enforcement agencies have a right to apply tacit investigation methods towards the individual people, such as searches, raids, correspondence controls and other rights restrictions. And all the time these people have substantially limited possibilities to protect their rights in this respect.
As a rule, such proceedings are registered on the basis of the reports on the on-site detected criminal offences (i.e. internal documents), which in most cases provide insufficient information to indicate a crime. Despite the demands of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, a person in this case cannot use Article 6 of the Convention, i.e. either question prosecution witnesses or demand ones to be questioned, demand defense witnesses to be called and interrogated on the same terms as the prosecution witnesses.
It is discrepancies of such kind the Bill is intended to eliminate. Only time will tell how the parliamentarians will take it.