Honouring of obligations and commitments by Ukraine
Recommendation 1622 (2003)
26 May 2004
Reply from the Committee of Ministers
adopted at the 884th meeting of the Ministers Deputies (19 May 2004)
1. The Committee of Ministers refers to its reply adopted on 4 December 2003 at the 864th meeting of the Ministers Deputies (see document CM/AS(2003)Rec1622 final of 9 December 2003).
2. As mentioned in this first reply, the Committee of Ministers had instructed the Secretariat to:
a. prepare an assessment of the results of co-operation to date, including progress achieved and shortcomings;
b. work with the Ukrainian authorities to propose a new targeted programme, drawing on the lessons of previous programmes, emphasising desired objectives, benchmarks for progress, time-table to be respected and expected results;
c. build on and finalise existing proposals for the new European Commission/Council of Europe Joint Initiative for Ukraine, through a new Secretariat information and assistance mission to Ukraine.
3. The Secretariat Information and Assistance Mission referred to in paragraph 9 of the reply mentioned above took place between 16 and 19 March 2004. The report of this mission is reproduced in document SG/INF(2004)12.
4. The Secretariat Information and Assistance Mission was combined with a meeting of the Steering Committee of the Joint Programmes between the European Commission and the Council of Europe with Ukraine, which took place in Kyiv on 19 March 2004. The report of this meeting is reproduced in document DSP (2004) 8.
5. At that meeting of the Steering Committee, the implementation and the results achieved under the Joint Programme were positively assessed by the Ukrainian authorities, the European Commission and the Secretariat of the Council of Europe. The partners confirmed that the Programme received good coverage in the Ukrainian press and media.
6. Since the adoption of the first reply, the European Commission and the Council of Europe have concluded a new Joint Programme of co-operation to strengthen democratic stability in Ukraine. This fifth Joint Programme, which will be implemented over the period 2004-2005, has a total value of 950 000. It mainly concentrates on the following priorities:
reform of the General Prosecutors Office;
organisation and training of the police;
setting up of a permanent training structure for judges;
further training of judges, prosecutors, lawyers and media professionals in European standards concerning freedom of expression and information.
7. The new Joint Programme builds on the results achieved in the previous one (Ukraine IV) such as:
training on the European Convention of Human rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human rights of up to 5 000 Ukrainian judges;
increasing number of judgments of Ukrainian courts referring to the provisions of the ECHR and the Strasbourg Court case-law (more than 80 judgments to date);
implementation of the Action Plan for the media, in particular training in European standards on freedom of expression (Article 10 of the ECHR) for judges, lawyers and media professionals;
legal assessment of compatibility of various laws and draft laws with European norms and standards, with a view in particular to facilitate the ratification of relevant European Conventions;
reform of history teaching in Ukraine;
assistance to prepare for the accession to the Bologna process.
8. The recent conclusion of a new European Commission/Council of Europe Joint Programme with Ukraine which should strengthen the positive results achieved in previous programmes, was welcomed by the participants in the 20th Quadripartite Meeting between the European Union and the Council of Europe (Brussels, 22 March 2004).
9. However, as it is confirmed by the report of the Secretariat Information and Assistance mission, referred to above, the status and extensive competences of the General Prosecutors Office, and in particular its role in the general supervision of human rights issues, will deserve to be addressed. At the request of the Ukrainian side, Council of Europe experts are at present examining the draft law on the Prosecutor Generals Office, with a view to assessing its compatibility with European norms and standards.
10. Bearing in mind the forthcoming Presidential elections, the neutrality of and equal access to the media will be of crucial importance to secure free and fair elections. In this context, the Committee of Ministers will pursue its close analysis of the situation of the media in Ukraine and will offer any necessary assistance in this respect. The Committee of Ministers welcomed the established practice of submission by the Ukrainian authorities to the Council of Europe for legal appraisal of draft laws on questions concerning freedom of expression and the media, so as to ensure that the draft laws comply with relevant Council of Europe standards, and underlined the importance of continuing with this practice.
11. The Committee of Ministers reiterates its invitation to the relevant Ukrainian authorities to take due account of the Council of Europe expert opinions when adopting or revising its relevant legislation. More generally, at their 881bis meeting on 21 April 2004, the Ministers Deputies invited their Rapporteur Group on Democratic Stability (GR-EDS) to pursue consideration of the follow-up given to the recommendations included in the report of the Secretariat Information and Assistance Mission (document SG/Inf(2004)12) and to report back in due course.
12 The Committee of Ministers, whilst acknowledging the positive decision taken by the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) of Ukraine on 3 February 2004 rejecting some controversial constitutional amendments, calls the Ukrainian authorities to request the opinion of the Venice Commission on any new constitutional amendments and to take full account of its expertise.
13. Finally, the Committee of Ministers takes note of the adoption on 19 March 2004 by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a new Civil Procedure Code, which, after signature by the President of Ukraine, will enter into force on 1 January 2005. The Committee recalls that the adoption of a new Civil Procedure Code in line with European norms is to be considered as a significant step achieved by Ukraine in implementing fully its obligations towards the Council of Europe.