Overhaul of the Ukrainian Criminal Code by Christmas?September 25, 2011
As many of you dear readers will be aware, successive Ukrainian governments since independence have done very little by way of updating historical Soviet laws that weren’t in their interest at the time to do so. (Namely if such laws did not stand in their way to achieve X or Y, then they have remained unchanged. If they did, they were changed.)
Thus we are still in a situation where the Soviet 1974 Labour Laws are technically providing the boundaries to the work place, Ms Tymoshenko is being tried on a 1968 Soviet “misuse of office” article obscurity undoubtedly in the Criminal Code to react to “party members” overstepping the mark back in the deepest, darkest days of the USSR.
Great swathes of Ukrainian life in the 21st Century are still technically marshaled by 20th century Soviet laws which are quite obviously either technically still in existence but completely ignored and never implemented (like large sections of the Labour Code) or employed if you manage to annoy somebody of importance (as is possibly the case of Ms Tymoshenko).
You will note that the existing and pending allegations against her are under the obscure “misuse of office” Soviet “control system” and she is not charged with corruption under more recent laws. (To use the corruption law would open up a can of worms and leave the RADA bereft of MPs as you simply don’t get into the RADA unless a beneficiary of the patronage system that runs throughout Ukrainian life.)
Anyway, the Speaker of the RADA, Mr Lytvyn, has confidently stated that the new Criminal Code, as submitted to PACE/Council of Europe in August, will be passed by the year end. If there is ever a way to put an end to the politicalisation of the Tymoshenko trial it will be to repeal the Article she is being tried under during this process (or repeal it before).
Now a new Criminal Code is all very well, especially if the CoE/PACE decide it meets European norms (if there is such a thing as European norms. After all, law runs to the very heart of sovereignty and in many EU Member States what is legal in one nation is illegal in another.) The question is the repealing or canceling of the existing Criminal Code in part or in full. Will it be done or will it be allowed to lay dormant as so much outdated and superseded statute does on so many nation’s books?
What laws have been changed, repealed or updated in the new Criminal Code or is the new Criminal Code a reform of processes rather than existing laws? Is it both? As with many things in Ukraine, whilst there is a need to have the laws of the land, the implementation of them, even very good and reasoned laws, does not necessarily happen consistently, fairly or “blindly” as justice would necessitate.
When will CoE/PACE give their opinion on the new Criminal Code? Surely having only received it in August, they have not given an opinion (or any recommendations) in a matter of weeks. This is a European collective institution and by its very nature, speed is not one of its defining traits, especially over something so fundamental as providing opinion (and/or recommendation) to a nations criminal code. Such things need consideration, exploration, rumination and comparison in order to provide a fair and reasoned response.
We will see how this develops with interest, particularly as this is a busy session in the RADA already.
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