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CoE EuroMaidan report, a most damning read – And now what?

April 1, 2015

This Council of Europe report into the EuroMaidan investigations – or perhaps more accurately described as the complete and utter absence of coherent, effective and genuine investigations into the EuroMaidan events – is an exceptionally (and rightly) damning read when it comes identifying the complete absence of management, responsibility, cooperation between and effectiveness of Ukrainian institutions, and their “efforts” to bring about justice for both protesters and police.

118 pages of horrendously negligent – perhaps even criminal – Ukrainian political and institutional incompetence, increasing in orders of magnitude by the page number.

The conclusions below are simply damning – but for those with the time, do read the entire report to fully appreciate the full scope of incompetence, lack of cooperation, management failures, avoidance of responsibility, and political expediency involved to this very day.

Conclusion
399. The Panel concludes that there was no genuine attempt, prior to 22 February 2014, to pursue investigations into the acts of violence during the Maidan demonstrations.
The lack of genuine investigations during the three months of the demonstrations inevitably meant that the investigations did not begin promptly and this constituted, of itself, a substantial challenge for the investigations which took place thereafter and on which the Panel’s review has principally focused.

Conclusion
409. The challenges confronting those responsible for the Maidan investigations since 22 February 2014 have been significant and their impact on the investigations cannot be under-estimated. However, these challenges cannot excuse any failings which did not inevitably flow from them. The authorities of the present government clearly were, and are under, an obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the investigations comply with Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention.

Conclusion
420. The Panel notes the numerous calls to introduce an independent and effective mechanism within Ukraine for investigations of crimes committed by law enforcement officers. The need for such a mechanism is highlighted by the crimes committed during the Maidan demonstrations.
The Panel concludes that, in certain important respects, the investigations into the Maidan cases lacked practical independence in circumstances where the investigating body belonged to the same authority as those under investigation. The Panel further considers that the appointment post-Maidan of certain officials to senior positions in the MoI contributed to the lack of appearance of independence and served to undermine public confidence in the readiness of the MoI to investigate the crimes committed during Maidan.

Conclusion
431. The Panel concludes that the number of PGO investigators involved in the Maidan investigations during 2014 was wholly inadequate.
The Panel further concludes that there was, in addition, an absence of continuity at senior prosecutor level in the PGO in three respects. The appointment of three successive Prosecutors General in the first 12 months of these investigations must have been detrimental to the investigations, from the standpoint both of their overall direction and the credibility of the authorities’ response to the Maidan violence. The removal from the Maidan investigations of the two leaders of those investigations must have had a seriously adverse impact on the progress, quality and effectiveness of investigations. All save one of the senior prosecutors appointed to the MID of the PGO after 22 February 2014 appear to have been dismissed or removed from the Department by October 2014.

Conclusion
436. The Panel did not consider the allocation of investigative work between the PGO, on the one hand, and the Kyiv City Prosecutor’s Office and the MoI, on the other, to be coherent or efficient. Nor did the Panel find the PGO’s supervision of the investigative work of the Kyiv City Prosecutor’s Office to have been effective.

Conclusion
445. Co-operation by the MoI was crucial to the effectiveness of the PGO investigations. The Panel concludes that there are strong grounds to believe that the MoI attitude to the PGO has been unco-operative and, in certain respects, obstructive. While the PGO complained to the MoI, the Panel considers that not all necessary steps were taken by the PGO to ensure effective co-operation by the MoI in the investigations.
It further concludes that there are strong grounds to believe that this attitude of the MoI has had a seriously negative impact on the investigations. The illustrative example, detailed below, of the PGO attempts to question and arrest Berkut officers, serves to confirm this finding.

Conclusion
451. SSU co-operation was also important to the effectiveness of the PGO investigations. While the Panel has noted a reticence on the part of the PGO to investigate thoroughly the possible responsibility of the SSU at an operational level, it considers that the above elements provide grounds to believe that the SSU failed adequately to co-operate with the PGO and that this had a negative impact on the investigations into the counter-Maidan operation of the SSU.

Conclusion
465. The Panel concludes that the decisions of the Pecherskyi District Court, the main court of jurisdiction in many Maidan-related proceedings, failed to comply with the requirements of Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention, undermined aspects of the effectiveness of the Maidan investigations and, more generally, weakened the deterrent effect of the judicial system in place.

Conclusion
477. The Panel considers that this example, relating as it does to the most serious episode of Maidan-related violence, is illustrative of a lack of co-operation and obstruction by the MoI which seriously impeded progress in this key investigation.
The Panel also has serious concerns about the failure to notify additional Berkut officers of suspicion during the mandate of Mr Yarema, the then Prosecutor General.

Conclusion
482. The Panel would stress that the grant of amnesties or pardons to law enforcement officers in relation to unlawful killings or acts of ill-treatment would be incompatible with Ukraine’s obligations under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention.

Conclusion
489. The Panel has already found that the absence of investigative activity during the three months of the demonstrations meant that the investigations did not begin promptly. It also considers that the serious deficiencies in the investigations thereafter have significantly protracted the investigative response to the violent events in Maidan.

Conclusion
502. The Panel considers that ensuring a sufficient degree of public scrutiny of the Maidan investigations is a means of securing accountability for the violence perpetrated during the demonstrations. In addition, the events at Maidan were of such importance, that the authorities were required to provide sufficient information about the investigations so as to facilitate meaningful public scrutiny of them. That necessitated, inter alia, a coordinated communication policy by the three competent investigating bodies to ensure the delivery of consistent and comprehensive information about the investigations as a whole.
While some efforts were made, the Panel found that there was no such communication policy in place, as a result of which the information delivered to the public was insufficient. This failure by the authorities undermined the role of public scrutiny in securing accountability and, in addition, failed to satisfy the public’s right to know what happened during the Maidan demonstrations.

Conclusion
508. The Panel’s role is not to determine whether the investigation of an individual case satisfied the requirements of the Convention and, in this regard, limits its conclusions to recalling the case-law of the European Court relating to the involvement of victims and next-of-kin in any criminal investigation. While the Panel has noted certain positive initiatives taken, in particular by the PGO, it does not consider that these steps, or the information provided to the public, were of themselves sufficient to protect the rights and legitimate interests of the victims and next-of–kin.

Conclusion
520. The Panel considers that substantial progress has not been made in the investigations into the violent incidents during the Maidan demonstrations.
While this outcome can be explained to some extent by the contextual challenges to those investigations266, the Panel considers that the serious investigative deficiencies identified in this Report have undermined the authorities’ ability to establish the circumstances of the Maidan-related crimes and to identify those responsible.

Whether you have read the entire report, or simply have no desire to enter the depths of incompetence, expedience, nepotism, collusion, obstructionism and ineptitude behind the official conclusions above, there is a very big question to be asked, and subsequently answered, by those currently in charge (and many of those “currently” were, and remain, responsible for the outright investigative failures mentioned).

That question is “Now what?”

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