02 April 2021 of the year
What will affect the development of criminal practice in 2019
«CEE Legal Matters»
Over the past few years, criminal practice has been one of the key in Ukraine. This is possible due to two factors – low economic activity and heightened political and criminal law pressure.
Business criminal prosecution
The main instrument of state pressure on business is the demonstrative conduct of searches, which, as a rule, are carried out by a large number of law enforcement officers in the presence of armed special forces, whose representatives cover their faces with masks. In this regard, unfriendly actions of the state in relation to business are called “show masks”.
A number of laws were adopted to protect businesses from direct interference by law enforcement agencies in their day-to-day work, including the so-called STOP Show Masks # 1 and STOP Show Masks # 2. They provide for: requirements for video recording when deciding to conduct a search and in the process of conducting it, the duty of the investigator to allow the searched person’s lawyer during the search, restrictions on the ability to seize originals of documents related to doing business, changes in the procedure for considering complaints about the investigation and increased liability the investigator for causing damage by unlawful decisions, preventing attempts to unjustifiably extend the terms of the preliminary investigation.
At the same time, an interesting point of reforming the criminal law is that most of the positive changes aimed at protecting against unlawful prosecution will only apply to cases that were initiated after March 15, 2017.
Expanding law enforcement
Another feature of criminal practice is the large number of law enforcement agencies that investigate crimes, and conflicts between them. At the end of 2018, the powers of the prosecutor’s office as an investigative body should be completely terminated, while maintaining its functions of procedural accompaniment of investigators and supporting the prosecution in court. Instead, a new investigative body, the State Bureau of Investigation, which has already been created, should start working, which will deal with most cases related to the actions of government officials, including in the field of corruption, business and law enforcement.
At the same time, legislative initiatives to create the Financial Investigation Service instead of the tax police are being widely discussed. The competence of this body will be the authority to investigate all crimes related to the business sphere, including those related to taxation. Currently, the conflicts between the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, as well as the Security Service of Ukraine are widely known. It is possible that conflict situations will be repeated after the start of the work of new law enforcement agencies with overlapping competence.
We also forecast an increase in the number of cases related to the mandatory declaration of income of state officials for real or imaginary violations in this area, for example, incorrect declaration and concealment of personal income or family members.
Considering everything that happens, the role of lawyers in protecting individuals from illegal criminal prosecution is growing significantly.
Increasingly, the state is trying, and sometimes it succeeds, to use lawyers from the institute of free aid to resolve its departmental issues. Using illegal manipulations, instead of a lawyer under the contract, a free lawyer is introduced into the case, who acts against the interests of the client, which makes it easier for the law enforcement agency to resolve procedural issues related to the prosecution of a certain person.
The number of violations of the professional rights of lawyers has reached a critical point. Therefore, as the Coordinator of the Initiative Group for the Protection of the Rights of Lawyers, I initiated and published a study on the violation of the rights of lawyers “Defenseless Defenders”. Now we are actively disseminating this information among the international human rights and legal community, and continue to fight for our own rights at the national level.
Next year we anticipate an increase in the demand for criminal practice. Consequently, the systematic comprehensive protection of the interests of business and the rights of citizens, carried out by a team of lawyers of a highly specialized criminal boutique simultaneously on several episodes, persons involved or on a wide territory, will remain in demand.