Olena Sotnyk: “A story from Stalin’s times – when even for minor offenses a person had to bear a terrible responsibility”

Tomorrow the parliament is due to consider a draft law #7279 on simplification of pre-trial investigation of certain categories of crimes, or rather of misdemeanor offenses. As reported by Samopomich MP Olena Sotnyk, the draft law, whose aim should be to humanize criminal responsibility, offers the parliament to introduce a “monster” that poses very serious threats to human rights.

According to Olena Sotnyk, the idea of the bill was to introduce a new form of a criminal offense – a criminal misdemeanor – which is not as grievous as criminal offenses are and does not result in serious damage, but at the same time seriously overloads the law enforcers and distracts them from investigating more serious and grievous crimes.

“However, as a matter of fact, the bill, initiated by the parliament’s relevant committee, is a mechanical renaming of a number of crimes into misdemeanor offenses, even though some of them are rather serious in terms of a threat they pose to people. And in more than 70 different articles of the Criminal Code, authors are turning light crimes into crimes of medium gravity, and in this regard, punishments are being revised as well,” the people’s deputy reports and cites an example. “If earlier for a violation of public order there was a fine of 850 hryvnias, now they offer a fine of 68,000 hryvnias. Let me remind you that this is the article under which the majority of participants in the Revolution of Dignity were charged.”

The second problem of the bill emphasized by Olena Sotnyk is as follows: everything that will be called criminal misdemeanor will be investigated within 48 hours, and a person will only be able to get acquainted with the materials of the case immediately in court.

“That is, the person won’t be able to seek help from a lawyer, or to submit materials, documents, in his/her defense. And if the investigating officer decides it is necessary to prolong the investigation, then it can be extended to the maximum of 20 days. However, this is nonsense, because, for example, when there are minor injuries, forensic examinations can be conducted only 21 days after the injuries were inflicted. And the judge will not be able to revise the evidence suggested by the investigation in any way – the judge will not be able to say that, for example, an examination was carried out improperly, there are not enough conclusions or testimonies from witnesses. That is, we understand that this will not be a proper prosecution, but a pure profanation. False confessions will be secured. This is a return to Soviet times, where the confession of guilt was the “queen” of evidence,” underscores Olena Sotnyk.

At the same time, the authors of the bill suggest that even misdemeanor should entail a criminal conviction, and the responsibility for it, as well as for crimes, can be in the form of imprisonment.

“Imagine a teenager who at the age of 16 is imprisoned for stealing a bicycle. What will happen to this person when he gets out at the age 21? Bills like this prove that the authorities continue pursuing the path of oppression and the construction of a police state. This is a story of Stalin’s times, when even for minor misconduct people had to bear a very terrible responsibility,” Olena Sotnyk is convinced.

Since this bill does not correspond to the declared goal, Olena Sotnyk, together with a number of people’s deputies, introduced an alternative bill #7279-1. However, during today’s meeting, the relevant committee recommended adopting its own bill in the first reading and rejecting the alternative one. The consideration of the law is on the agenda of the Verkhovna Rada for tomorrow.

“From a country that has allegedly taken a course toward the humanization of criminal responsibility, we are being thrown back to the level of unlawful countries. And most importantly, we put our citizens in jeopardy: they might end up in jails for years for minor offenses that are not particularly dangerous for the public good,” concludes Olena Sotnyk.

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