Dear Mr President,
Ordinarily, independent legal observers reporting on a potentially flawed trial would not be in a position of addressing the President of the country involved. However, from our observations thus far we have grave concerns that the judicial system in Ukraine is entirely unfit for purpose.
In support of this position we note the cases (The Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Reports) where judges have been subject to prosecution and dismissal for failing to agree with the prosecution in trials they have been involved with, and that the numbers of dismissals of judges has risen dramatically under your Presidency. In such circumstances there can be no justice in Ukraine: if judges of the appeal court can be treated in such a manner it is compelling evidence that the system itself is incapable of being independent, or fair.
In our attempts to report on the trial and investigate numerous complaints of procedural unfairness and denial of human rights and natural justice, we have attempted to glean detailed information on the process so we can properly comment on violations of due process at the hearing.
We are genuinely concerned that defence teams in general, may be operating under similar undue pressures to that of appeal court judges, and consequently are prevented from doing as much as is necessary to protect their clients. There are numerous instances that have been brought to our attention leading to this concern.
On this basis we can state the following: Ukrainian courts and prosecutors are not independent or impartial; preventive custody is overused and abused; presumption of innocence and equality of the parties is non-existent; there is a lack of independence of judiciary from political influence; courts are open to undue influence by politicians; the appointment and discipline of judges is flawed; the Higher Council of Justice is under undue political influence; the role of Ukrainian General Prosecutor is overly powerful and fatally undermines separation of law functions; there is imbalance between prosecution and judiciary; selection of judges has violated international and Ukrainian law.
In these circumstances we are taking the unusual step of writing to you personally, to put before you this litany of travesties of justice and to invite you as Head-of-State to ensure that this apparent breakdown in Ukraineâ€™s entire system of justice is addressed urgently and effectively.
If figures such as judges and former Prime Ministers cannot expect due process, no one can be assured of the protection of law in your country. We therefore believe that you should understand the most urgent and compelling need to serve the interests of justice and the Ukrainian people as mandated and required by your office. Until this occurs there can be no justice in Ukraine.
This is the collective opinion of our international observer delegation who attended the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine and reviewed evidence pertaining to this case.
We, the undersigned:
Jerry Prus-Butwilowicz (LLB)
Former UK Senior Crown Prosecutor / Special Legal Counsel: Humanitad
Sir John Walsh of Brannagh
International & Constitutional Lawyer
Professor Paul Wilson (OAM, BA Hons, MA Hons, PhD)
Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences / Criminologist and Forensic Psychologist
Secretary-General: Natural World Organisation
Michael Upstone (BA Hons)
Director of Law & Administration: Humanitad
Founder: Humanitad / Director-General: Natural World Organization