19 december 2017

State Investigations Bureau should probe crimes of judges and law-enforcers - survey results

The newly established State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) should focus primarily on investigating crimes committed by judicial and law enforcement officers. This is the opinion of the majority of experts and public representatives who took part in the online survey under the EU-funded project “Strengthening the Role of Civil Society in Facilitating Democratic Reforms and Increasing Accountability, Responsibility, and Quality of Government”.

“The equal number of respondents - 82% of experts and 82% of the general public - agreed that the SBI should currently focus primarily on investigating crimes committed by judges, prosecutors, police officers and law enforcement officials. At present, the crimes of politicians or civil servants are not considered to be a priority for the work of the SBI,Oleksandr Banchuk, a board member of the CPLR, said at the expert discussion “State Bureau of Investigations: Operation Priorities” on December 19.

The Centre of Policy and Legal Reform (CPLR) and the Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement (UMDPL) conducted a survey. An online questionnaire was conducted from December 4 to December 15, 2017. More than 40 professional experts and 100 representatives of the public took part in the poll.

The survey has shown an extremely low level of public confidence in the new leadership of the SBI. “Only 3% of respondents have a complete trust in them, 25% do not trust them at all and 45% mostly do not trust them. That is, the SBI has not yet begun working, but its leaders have already lost the trust of 70% of respondents,” Volodymyr Petrakovsky, an expert of the Reanimation Package of Reforms, said.

The respondents also said that the categories of crimes that will be investigated by the SBI as provided by the law (Article 216) should remain as they are today. This statement was supported by the majority of the public (53%) and experts (43%). “So, the SBI should remain within its current jurisdiction for the next two years, and some changes will be possible only in the future after the Bureau will be up and running,” Mykola Khavroniuk, the director of scientific development of the CPLR, emphasized.

Yevhen Krapyvin, an expert of the UMDPL Association, noted that the majority of the interviewed experts believe that the SBI should wiretap phones of individuals on its own, because of the confrontation between the NABU, on the one hand, and the Prosecutor General's Office and the Security Service of Ukraine, on the other hand. The public is convinced that the Bureau should do this solely together with NABU.

In addition, the survey results indicate the importance of the public control over the formation and further activities of the SBI. "Some 60% of experts and 75% of civil activists believe that civil society representatives should participate not only in the work of the Civil Control Council under the SBI, but also in competition committees on the selection of employees of this institution," Yevhen Krapyvin stressed.

Background Information: The two-year EU-funded project “Strengthening the Role of Civil Society in Facilitating Democratic Reforms and Increasing Accountability, Responsibility, and Quality of Government” started on October 1, 2017. Its goal is to raise awareness of experts, the public and the media about reforms in the judicial and constitutional sector, fight against corruption, etc. In particular, the CPLR have already held various events to inform society about the selection of judges to the Constitutional Court, the state funding of parties, the activities of anti-corruption bodies, and the reform of the Supreme Court.

The State Bureau of Investigations is a pre-trial investigation agency authorized to investigate crimes committed by politicians, people's deputies, civil servants, judges, prosecutors, police officers and other officials of the law enforcement agencies.

On November 22, 2017, the president of Ukraine appointed Roman Truba as director of the State Bureau of Investigations. Deputy directors of the SBI were appointed later. The SBI is expected to start its operation in the latter part of 2018, and will take over from the prosecutor's office the investigation of crimes committed by top officials and law-enforcers. This is expected to prevent corruption in the prosecutor's office, because the functions of the investigative authorities and the prosecutor's office will be separated.

For additional information please contact: Yarina Busol, tel: +38 095 153 2542, busol@pravo.org.ua