Strasbourg, 09.03.2012 – The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), meeting in Paris at Standing Committee level, today made the following statement on the deteriorating situation of imprisoned politicians in Ukraine:
“The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe notes with concern, some six weeks after Resolution 1862 (2012) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Ukraine, the absence of any tangible signs of its demands being met with regard to the criminal prosecutions initiated under Articles 364 and 365 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine against a number of former Government members, including the former Acting Minister of the Interior, Juriy Lutsenko, the former Acting Minister of Defence, Valeriy Ivaschenko, and the former Deputy Minister of Justice, Yevhen Korniychuk, as well as the former Prime Minister, Yuliya Tymoshenko.
On the contrary, despite calls of the Assembly to amend Articles 364 and 365 of the Criminal Code as they allow for post facto criminalisation of normal political decision-making, the Parliament of Ukraine failed to do so on 8 February 2012, thereby pre-empting the possibility for charges against former government officials based on these provisions to be dropped. Furthermore, on 27 February 2012, former Minister of Interior Lutsenko was convicted to four years of imprisonment on the basis of a trial which is alleged to have been unfair and for crimes which do not justify a term of imprisonment.
The fact that former Prime Minister Tymoshenko remains in detention and the recent conviction of Mr Lutsenko - notwithstanding their seriously deteriorating health - both strengthen the impression of selective justice.
The Assembly reiterates in this respect that 'the assessment of political decisions and their effects is the prerogative of parliaments and, ultimately, of the electorate and not of the courts' and, once again, calls on the authorities of Ukraine – including the President – urgently to consider all legal means available to them to release these former government members and to allow them to compete in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
The Assembly, through its Monitoring Committee, will continue to follow the situation closely. It notes that the committee’s co-rapporteurs will visit Ukraine at the end of March 2012 and expects full co-operation of the authorities with the co-rapporteurs, including the latter’s access to the former government members detained. It recalls in this connection that it has invited the committee to propose any further action as required by the situation, including with regard to the possible consideration of sanctions if the Assembly’s demands are not met.”