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03.03.2023

Digitization of the criminal process: Nataliya Antonyuk talked about the challenges of remote justice in the conditions of war

The Secretary of the First Judicial Chamber of the CCC of the Supreme Court, Natalia Antonyuk, took part in the International Conference "New procedural tools in the post-pandemic reality", organized by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania.

The speaker focused on issues related to the digitalization of the criminal process and new challenges that arose before the judicial system in the conditions of the war in Ukraine.

In her speech, Nataliya Antonyuk drew attention to the problems related to the work of the courts in the pre-war period, in particular:

– appeals by persons (participants in the process) to the court with complaints sent by means of electronic means of communication (e-mail), which imposed additional costs on the courts, related to the reproduction of the necessary number of copies of such a complaint and their distribution to everyone, in addition to the complainant, participants in the proceedings;

– digitization (scanning) of criminal proceedings;

– the process of regulating access to file exchanges and ensuring the security of such access;

– ensuring information security during a remote court session in video conference mode;

– notification to the participants of the proceedings about the date, time and place of the trial by sending them a summons only by means of postal communication, given that notifications by using messengers (WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram, etc.) or e-mail are obviously a common and common phenomenon.

Later, the secretary of the First Judicial Chamber outlined a number of problems that the courts of Ukraine faced in their work already after the invasion of the Russian Federation, in particular:

– complication or suspension of the work of courts, which is connected with frequent or permanent announcements of air alarms, shelling of cities by the enemy army of the Russian Federation, blackouts, including emergency ones, of electricity, lack of mobile and Internet communication;

– transportation of cases and proceedings from the territory where active hostilities are taking place, or in general territories temporarily controlled by the enemy, to safe places;

– limiting or complicating access to the system of the Unified State Register of Court Decisions;

– provision of remote court proceedings using video conferencing using own technical means;

– notification of the court proceedings and the format of participation in the court session of persons who are abroad or in the temporarily occupied territory.

As noted by Nataliya Antoniuk, today it is important to pay attention to the difficulties that arise during the consideration by courts of criminal proceedings regarding crimes against the foundations of national security, as well as crimes against peace, human security and international legal order, in particular regarding the implementation of proper notification of the participants in the proceedings in such categories of cases , whose location cannot be established, or if there is information about the stay of these persons in the temporarily occupied territory or in the territory of the Russian Federation.

The speaker emphasized that the message should be made not only in the Ukrainian language, but also in the language understood by the person to whom it concerns. In the case of hearing proceedings in absentia , messengers should be used for notification, and relevant information should also be sent to the addressee's place of work.

In the end, Nataliya Antonyuk emphasized that the war did not stop the process of digitalization of the criminal process, but on the contrary – forced it to speed up. However, when compared to other jurisdictions, the criminal jurisdiction is somewhat conservative. Therefore, the introduction of new technologies into the criminal process is necessary and timely, and the legislator should optimize the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine precisely in the direction of digitalization of the criminal process.

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