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Weekly analytics for 16 —  22 November

22.11.2022

Political Points of the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform include a weekly expert analysis of the most important process in Ukraine in areas of constitutionalism, political parties and elections, governance and public administration reform, judiciary, combating corruption, criminal justice, etc. 

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Event

On November 11, 2022, an Interdepartmental Working Group was established by the Prosecutor General’s Order № 248 in order to develop a draft Comprehensive Strategic Plan for Reforming the Law Enforcement Agencies as Part of the Security and Defense Sector of Ukraine. The corresponding document is a requirement for the implementation of one of the recommendations of the European Commission regarding Ukraine’s status for membership in the European Union, which was issued in June 2022, namely, “to adopt an overarching strategic plan for reform of the entire law enforcement sector as part of Ukraine’s security environment”.

Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin named the following among the strategic goals of the reform:

– implementation of a result-focused management system for law enforcement agencies – i.e., focused on a court verdict;

– digitalization and implementation of e-case management – an electronic managing system for criminal proceedings;

– ensuring the efficiency of justice and expanding the means for out-of-court settlement, in particular, expanding the possibilities for plea bargaining with the investigation while ensuring the protection of victim and state interests;

– improving the interaction between law enforcement agencies;

– accountability and openness, as well as implementing a system for assessment of efficiency of law enforcement agencies.

– establishing mechanisms for internal control and prevention of corruption, as well as integrity checks for representatives of all criminal justice institutions based on uniform criteria and standards;

– strengthening the international cooperation and integration into international networks.

CPLRs assessment

The law enforcement area, despite the achievements of 2014-2022 reforms, requires significant improvements, and in some situations – where reforms were suspended or no results were achieved – it needs to be brought to a logical conclusion.

Therefore, even before Ukraine received the status of candidate for EU membership, the draft Concept of Criminal Justice Reform for 2022-2030 was developed by the Office of the Prosecutor General, and in certain areas, the grounds for necessary reforms in the criminal justice sector were put in place.

For example, at the beginning of 2021, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the draft Law “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On the Security Service of Ukraine” regarding the improvement of organizational and legal grounds for the activity of the Security Service of Ukraine” (Reg. № 3196-d of 26.10.2020) in the first reading. The draft Law, among other issues, provides for the gradual reorganization of the Security Service, which should remove it from the law enforcement system by 2024 (primarily by removing its pre-trial investigation function). At the end of 2021, Parliament members received a comparative table for the second reading, after which the process stopped; however, the adoption of this document as the basis can be considered an intention in the field of public policy. There are many other similar steps towards significant changes in the activities of various law enforcement agencies.

Therefore, the European Commission’s Recommendation stipulates the need for further reforms in the law enforcement area. At the same time, such reforms should not be limited only by criminal justice; issues of public safety, prevention, activities of executive branch oversight bodies charged with law enforcement functions, combating the consequences of the war (particularly, deoccupation and demining measures), etc. – all of these require the setting of future directions of state (public ) policies in order to allow the European Union to understand that reforms in Ukraine are not of a sporadic nature, but are united in a unified approach, with a focused and holistic nature aimed at influencing the general level of security of the Ukrainian citizens.

Thus, the Strategic Plan will cover not only law enforcement agencies in the criminal justice sector, but also the entire law enforcement area. Although the Prosecutor General’s Office coordinates the activities of law enforcement agencies in the field of criminal justice, it is an interdepartmental group that should accumulate all the achievements of law enforcement agencies, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, the Office of the President of Ukraine, etc. It is not yet clear what the final document will look like, considering the need for communication with the European partners and the broad focus of efforts; however, the earlier disparity of various sectoral reforms in the law enforcement area truly required a unified state policy regarding this issue.

As of now, previous developments by the CPLR experts in the area of criminal justice are included in the working group and will be used in the drafting of a new document.

The draft Strategic Plan for Reforming the Law Enforcement Agencies is expected before the end of the year, followed by its subsequent discussion and approval (according to the working group’s plans).

As a reminder, it was noted earlier, as part of the Candidates-check 2.0 study, that “there are developments [regarding the implementation of the EU Recommendation] that can be systematized in one document, but there is no political will for this”. Similarly, the “Vision for Ukraine – 2030” put forward by the civic coalition “Ukraine after Victory”, devotes a separate section to the law enforcement issue, which outlines the key directions and approaches to the development of law enforcement agencies that are considered necessary by the authors of the analytical document given the current political and legal situation in Ukraine.