The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called for charges against former government members in Ukraine, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, to be dropped. It asked the President of Ukraine to consider releasing them and to allow them to compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections, ForUm learned from the PACE press office.

In a resolution approved January 26, based on a report by Mailis Reps (Estonia, ALDE) and Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin (Sweden, EPP/CD), the Assembly also expressed its concern about the deteriorating health of Ms Timoshenko, and called on the authorities to allow her treatment by independent doctors.

The parliamentarians said the articles of Ukraine’s criminal code used to bring these cases were “overly broad and effectively allow for post-facto criminalisation of normal political decision-making. This runs counter to the rule of law and is unacceptable.”

These problems stem from “systematic deficiencies” in Ukraine’s justice system, the Assembly said. It spelled out a series of steps to increase the independence of the judiciary, reduce excessive detention on remand, and end the existing bias in favour of the prosecution. It also again called for constitutional reform, and further changes in Ukraine’s election law.

Failing to implement these recommendations within a reasonable timeframe, especially those relating to the criminal prosecution of former government members, would “raise serious questions” about Ukraine’s commitment to the principles of democracy and the rule of law, the Assembly said.

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