Archive for May 9th, 2013


ECfHR Tymoshenko Ruling

May 9, 2013

Since the European Court for Human Rights (ECfHR) released its first ruling (which is not final for 3 months from its announcement to allow for any appeals) on 30th April, both her supporters and detractors have been making some rather flexible interpretations about its meaning – far outside the scope of what is actually written.

What is true is that the court found serious fault with the old criminal code to which Ms Tymoshenko was subjected – a code no different to that employed to imprison the vast majority of the thousands of Ukrainians who also sit in prison today.

There was little doubt that serious fault would be found – otherwise why would the current Ukrainian government and parliament have created a new criminal code which finds far more favour with the European community?

Successive Ukrainian governments have known the old code to be seriously flawed – as did, undoubtedly, Ms Tymoshenko when she was Prime Minister only a few years ago.

Neither does it comment on her guilt or innocence for the matters over which she was prosecuted as some have inferred.

However such is the extent to which supporters and detractors have stretched far beyond what is actually written that somewhat unusually this statement was made by the ECfHR.

In short, the political motivations – or not – behind her trail and detention are not – yet at least – subjected to an ECfHR comment.  That is not what this ruling was about.

In several months, when her next case judgment is made, the issue of political motivation or selective justice may – or may not – be mentioned by the ECfHR – however it would perhaps have been far more circumspect to keep ones powder dry relating to that particular issue until that date if the opposition are to try to motivate and mobilise the public using the ECfHR as a driver.

Unfortunately, having made statements to the effect that the ECfHR stated Ms Tymsohenko was a political prisoner on the day of the judgment release, for that to then be refuted by Roderick Liddell of the ECfHR on 7th May, does not do much for the credibility of the opposition.

All the ECfHR ruling actually does (removing Ms Tymoshenko from the picture) is confirm to the Ukrainian public that the old criminal code was arbitrary, unfair, less than transparent, legislatively flawed in protecting by human rights and procedural normative – and that is not news to the Ukrainian public who lived under it for decades.

Fortunately, as the current government created a new criminal code to replace the old one under which Ms Tymoshenko was processed because it was so flawed, they will find it very difficult to appeal the ECfHR ruling whilst lauding their new criminal code as a major step forwards.

Anyway, far more interesting will be the Tymoshenko ruling due in a few months time – and whether political persecution or selective justice will be mentioned by the ECfHR in its ruling.

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