During 2023, 100 criminal proceedings were opened based on information about crimes against lawyers. However, none of them were brought to court with an indictment, and no suspect was announced to any person. And this may indicate unspoken sabotage by the prosecutor’s office and pre-trial investigation.
This conclusion was reached by the NAAU Committee on Criminal Law and Process based on the results of the analysis of the Unified Report of the Prosecutor General’s Office on criminal offenses for January-December 2023 (you can download the document via the link ).
As a reminder, Chapter XVIII “Criminal Offenses Against Justice” of the Criminal Code of Ukraine contains four types of crimes, the object of which is related to advocacy, namely:
- Art. 397. Interference in the activity of the defender or representative of the person;
- Article 398. Threat or violence against the person’s defense attorney or representative;
- Art. 399. Intentional destruction or damage to the property of the defender or representative of the person;
- Art. 400. Encroachment on the life of a defense attorney or a representative of a person in connection with activities related to the provision of legal aid.
According to the report drawn up in accordance with the order of the Prosecutor General dated 06.30.2020 No. 299 “On the approval of the forms of unified reporting on the state of criminal illegality”, for 12 months of 2023, information on 100 crimes against lawyers and lawyer’s activities was entered into the Unified Register of Pretrial Investigations, including: 77 – under the article of interference in activities; 20 – about threats or violence; 3 – regarding the destruction or damage of property.
At the same time, taking into account the proceedings of previous years, not a single case was sent to the court with an indictment. Also, according to official statistics, during the year there was not a single report of suspicion of committing a criminal offense.
At the same time, law enforcement officers closed 67 cases due to the absence of a criminal offense, the absence of a criminal offense and other reasons in accordance with part 1 Art. 284 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine.
At the end of last year, no decision was made to end or stop the proceedings in one hundred cases.
“Victims in these cases are lawyers who are specialists in the field of law, so they draw up statements about criminal offenses and record evidence properly,” says Anzhelika Moiseyeva, head of the NAAU Committee on Criminal Law and Procedure. – But even despite the appeal of the self-governance bodies of the bar to the prosecutor’s offices of all levels, the bodies of pre-trial investigation actually avoid the investigation of criminal offenses committed against procedural opponents.”
The Committee explains this, among other things, by the fact that the lion’s share of criminal offenses against advocacy are committed precisely during investigative (search) actions in criminal proceedings, primarily during searches, as well as during the detention of a person in criminal proceedings. Therefore, similar actions are often committed by investigators and operatives of pre-trial investigation bodies, and their colleagues, who investigate criminal offenses against the legal profession, actually sabotage the investigation.
“It should also be understood that lawyers do not have the authority to oblige the pre-trial investigation body to notify a person of suspicion or draw up an indictment. Therefore, the quality of all procedural decisions fully depends on the side of the prosecution, – says A. Moiseeva. – And all this gives reason to talk about covert sabotage on the part of the prosecutor’s office and pre-trial investigation in terms of ensuring the guarantees of advocacy by available criminal legal means.”