Meeting of the President of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine with the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine
On March 20, 2019 the President of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Stanislav Shevchuk held a meeting with the newly appointed OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine, Ambassador Henrik Villadsen, in the Constitutional Court of Ukraine.
The meeting was attended by the Judge of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Chairperson of the Standing Commission on International Relations of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Natalia Shaptala, Senior Project Officer of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine Jeffrey Erlich, and National Legal Adviser of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine Oleksandr Vodiannikov.
The President of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine Stanislav Shevchuk congratulated Henrik Villadsen on his appointment as the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine and wished him success in this responsible position. He noted long-standing fruitful cooperation between the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and the Office of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine. “OSCE has always been a reliable partner and a real friend of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine,” highlighted the President of the Constitutional Court.
Stanislav Shevchuk briefed the guests on the recent decisions delivered by the Court. He noted that the Constitutional Court of Ukraine is not a political body, however, in his opinion, the decisions of the Constitutional Court have a significant political effect. Thus, the President of the Court mentioned the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, which declared unconstitutional laws in the whole due to a violation of the procedure for their consideration and adoption, in particular, the language law and that on referendum.
The Court’s President noted that corruption is one of the most important issues for society at the moment. In this context, the Court's decision on conformity of Article 368² of the Criminal Code of Ukraine to the Constitution of Ukraine (constitutionality) caused a stormy social reaction.
“We understand the big public request to fight corruption, but our main goal is to defend the Constitution of Ukraine,” Stanislav Shevchuk stressed. He noted that the fight against corruption is important and should be carried out exclusively by legal means, in compliance with the constitutional principles and regulations of the law, adopted in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine.
The President of the Court also emphasised that in determining the crime of such an act, as illicit enrichment, it is necessary to take into account the constitutional provisions that establish the principles of legal responsibility, human and citizen’s rights and freedoms, as well as their guarantees.
Stanislav Shevchuk stressed that the principle of presumption of innocence is based on the principle of freedom of the individual, it is absolute and has no exceptions. The presumption of innocence, in his opinion, requires the state to prove the guilt of the accused and exempts the accused from the burden of proving his/her innocence. The essence of the presumption of innocence is that the guiding principle is the assumption of the innocence of a person. Therefore, the person cannot be obliged to prove his/her innocence and the existence of circumstances that exclude criminal liability.
In addition, during the meeting, Stanislav Shevchuk described in detail the powers of the constitutional control body of the country, and recalled that a new instrument for the protection of human and citizen’s fundamental rights and freedoms was established in Ukraine – the constitutional complaint institute. According to him, from now on, a person may directly apply to the Constitutional Court, if he/she considers that his/her constitutional right has been violated by law.
OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine Henrik Villadsen noted that OSCE supports democratic institutions of the country in difficult times. He emphasised the readiness to provide technical support and the importance of deepening project work, in particular with the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, in order to strengthen its institutional capacity.
Henrik Villadsen thanked for the comprehensive information provided on the activities of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine and noted progress in the development of the constitutional control body of the country. “One of the important achievements of the constitutional reform of 2016 is the introduction of the constitutional complaint institute that will change the country's legal system,” he highlighted.
At the end of the meeting, the interlocutors thanked each other for a constructive dialogue and exchanged suggestions on further cooperation.