The Rule of Law and Administrative Justice Units of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine (PCU) implement projects that aim to uphold the rule of law, strengthen human rights and ensure transparency and openness in Ukraine's citizen-state relations. This includes a series of projects in the areas of criminal justice, administrative law, legislative process, constitutional justice, combating organised crime and terrorism, prevention of torture and ill-treatment, raising public awareness on human rights, and improvement of the legal education system.
Within the framework of these projects, the PCU conducts activities and assists with the publication of essential materials presenting international standards and good practices, including those of the OSCE, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The PCU assists its Ukrainian partners to improve the administrative justice system, with the overall goal of enhancing the effectiveness of the protection of individuals’ rights in their relations with state authorities. Lack of coherence in administrative court practice is a key challenge for the improvement of administrative justice in Ukraine. Therefore, the PCU offers training to judges on uniform interpretation of legislation, including election-related legislation, application of European legal instruments, in particular, the European Convention on Human Rights, and strengthens the capacity of the judiciary in opinion writing.
To implement these activities, the PCU co-operates with several Ukrainian partners, including the Higher Administrative Court, the Administrative Courts and the National School of Judges.
The PCU continues to assist its Ukrainian partners to improve legal and human rights education. This is seen as a prerequisite and a guarantee for the protection of human rights and the independence of the judiciary. The PCU places particular focus on strengthening legal skills, and training lawyers to respect, protect and promote human rights and support the proper functioning of human rights protection mechanisms.
In co-operation with Ukraine's leading law schools, the National Academy of Legal Sciences and with assistance from the country’s Ministry of Justice, the PCU is developing a draft legislative framework regulating legal education and access to the legal profession in Ukraine. The Rule of Law and Human Rights section of the PCU also supports drafting handbooks and developing new syllabuses for fundamental legal courses to bring them in line with the current legal profession requirements and best international practice. As a complementary effort, the PCU assists in raising human rights awareness and promoting human rights education at schools through conducting training seminars for teachers and organizing human rights awareness activities for students and youth.
In close co-operation with the Parliamentary Committees of the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine and the Supreme Court, the PCU provides expert support by reviewing draft laws submitted to the Parliament. These reviews serve to determine whether the drafts conform with international standards regarding democracy, human rights and justice, and if they are in line with OSCE and CoE commitments and international best practice. In addition, the project envisages the improvement of judicial approaches and methodologies in enforcing Ukraine's international human rights obligations. Since 2012, the PCU has been supporting a summer school for law students on international and regional human rights law and enforcement, as well as a range of challenges to the protection of human rights.
The PCU continues to support implementation of national preventive mechanisms (NPMs) against torture and ill-treatment. Since 2006, the PCU has been supporting civil society efforts to implement a civil monitoring system within law-enforcement agencies in the form of mobile monitoring groups (MMGs). Comprising representatives of civil society, human rights activists and civil servants, these groups conducted regular visits to several governmental authorities, including, detention facilities, prisons and care homes for children. In 2012 the Parliament passed into law a bill aimed at establishment in Ukraine of an “Ombudsman Plus” NPM model. This promising development opened a new page in the implementation in Ukraine of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. In 2013, the PCU will continue working on this and other issues with the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, focusing on its capacity development in the sphere of NPM functioning and support to the MMGs’ visits to detention facilities.
With the adoption of the new Code of Criminal Procedure of Ukraine (CCP) in 2012, a fundamental reform of criminal justice is being implemented in the country. This process affects both law-enforcement bodies and the judiciary. The PCU developed a project to support the Government of Ukraine in complying with the country’s OSCE commitments in the sphere of fair trial guarantees as well as in bringing the national criminal justice system in line with European standards and best international practices. In 2013, PCU efforts will be focused on enhancement of the methodological capacity of the Ukrainian judiciary to enforce fair trial guarantees under the new CCP, support to the judiciary, legal professionals and law enforcers in proper implementation of the new CCP fair trial guarantees, and on conducting a professional forum on Ukraine’s criminal justice reform.
The PCU supports the Government of Ukraine in complying with the country’s OSCE commitments in the sphere of international security protection, combating terrorism and organised crime. A project developed in co-operation with the country’s Security Service aims to support the national policies to strengthen national security and foster international co-operation in these spheres. In 2013, PCU efforts in this area will be focused on enhancing international co-operation between Ukrainian and European security organisations, first of all the OSCE and its institutions. Support will also be provided to capacity building of specialised divisions of the Security Service of Ukraine in the sphere of combating organised crime, cyber-security policy, and international co-operation in the sphere of combating terrorism.