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The Parliament put under threat the investigation in the ‘Maidan cases’
1. CPLR expert opinion
On November 20 investigative bodies of the prosecution office lost the right to conduct pre-trial investigations. Investigators from these particular bodies investigated crimes committed during the Revolution of Dignity (the so-called ‘Maidan cases’). According to the legislation, uninvestigated cases have to be transferred to the State Investigation Bureau (SIB). Taking into account that investigation of these cases by investigators from the prosecution office has been conducted for a long period of time, transferring these cases to the new pre-trial investigation body will negatively affect the quality, speed, and comprehensiveness of the investigation and can potentially completely unravel the whole investigation.
Due to the inactivity of the Parliament, investigation of the ‘Maidan cases’ was put under threat. This pushed Yevhenia Zakrevska, the lawyer of the Heavenly Hundred’s families, to declare hunger strike which will last until the relevant amendment is passed and investigators and prosecutors transferred to the SIB.
2. Respective authorities counter-point/argument
Head of the “Servant of the People” faction which secures a majority in the Parliament David Arakhamia informed that it was impossible to convene an extraordinary session of the Parliament because “members of the parliament work in their constituencies” and for that reason, it was necessary to “wait patiently till December 3”.
At the same time, “Holos” party supported an initiative to hold an extraordinary session of the Parliament.
3. CPLR assessment of the authorities counter-point
A possibility to hold extraordinary sessions of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is clearly provided for by the Rules of Procedures. D. Arakhamia’s reference to MPs working in constituencies is not a valid argument since extraordinary sessions are by definition held in situations of urgency. According to the information provided by Yevhenia Zakrevska, by November 20 out of 67 investigators of the Special Investigations Department of the General Prosecution Office, only 25 left, which means that by December 3 there will be no prosecutors to transfer to the SIB. Apart from that, by December 3 Yevhenia Zakrevska will be refusing from food for 13 days.
4. Related legislation/instructions which require the authorities act in a certain manner
According to paragraph 8 of article 19 of the Law of Ukraine “On Rules of Procedures of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” Chairman of Verkhovna Rada shall convene a supplementary (extraordinary) plenary meeting on justifiable request by officials and agencies authorized to request convening of an extraordinary session of the Verkhovna Rada, subject to the Constitution of Ukraine (President of Ukraine, ⅓ of the constitutional number of parliamentarians), and at the proposal of the Conciliation Commission within three days in case of emergencies between plenary meetings during the session period. The agenda of such meetings shall include only those matters indicated in the requests for such meeting.
5. CPLR expert suggestions on how to fix the problem using the legal instruments available in Ukraine
CPLR supports demands laid down by the Advocacy Advisory Panel. In particular, we think that the President should have initiated an urgent draft law aimed at solving this problem and requested convening of an extraordinary meeting of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to pass an amendment which would allow preserving investigation in ‘Maidan cases’ by means of creating a dedicated investigation department in the SIB and transferring investigators and prosecutors working on ‘Maidan cases’ to this department.