The High Council of Justice on its session on March 26, 2020, made a decision to address publicly to the President of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine regarding the access to the justice by citizens in the quarantine conditions.
As states in the mentioned address, lately, the HCJ receives a lot of appeals from Ukrainian courts and public organizations (namely PO “Association of judges of economic courts” and PO “Legal state”), in which are issues concerning the features of administering justice in the conditions of a coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Article 29 of the Law of Ukraine “On protection of population against infectious diseases”, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine from March 11, 2020, № 211 «On prevention of the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 on the territory of Ukraine» from March 12 till April 3, 2020, the quarantine on all the territory of Ukraine is established. On March 16, 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine made amendments to the mentioned Regulation, according to which till April 3, 2020, is prohibited to visit educational institutions, to hold mass events, in which participating more than 10 people, except for events, necessary for providing of the functioning of bodies of state power, and is recommended to other state bodies to ensure the organization of a shifting work of employees, and in technical possibilities – also to work in the real-time mode by Internet. On March 25, 2020, the Government adopted the emergency mode on all the territory of Ukraine till April 24, 2020.
By Article 50 of the Constitution of Ukraine is settled the right of every citizen of Ukraine to an environment that is safe for life and health, and to compensation for damages inflicted through the violation of this right, - is stated in the HCJ’s address. Although, as stated in the address, administering justice by judges in open trials with the direct participation of parties of the process in conditions of the announcement of quarantine to prevent the widespread of an acute respiratory disease COVID-19, caused by coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, creates the threat to life and health of judges and parties of trials.
“At the same time, according to Article 8 of the Constitution of Ukraine in Ukraine, the principle of the rule of law is recognised and effective. The component of the rule of law is the right to appeal to court, which is provided by Article 55 of the Constitution of Ukraine and developed by Article 6 of the Convention of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950, as a right to a fair trial. Article 64 of the Constitution is provided that constitutional human and citizen’s rights and freedoms shall not be restricted, except in cases envisaged by the Constitution of Ukraine. The Constitution stresses that the right to a fair trial can not be restricted in the conditions of a military or emergency state”, - it is addressed by the HCJ.
Taking into consideration the mentioned above, the High Council of Justice considers that the right to a fair trial can not be restricted, although when establishing a fair balance between the right of a person to an environment that is safe for life and health, the duty on providing of which is the responsibility of the state of Ukraine.
The HCJ addressed to the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the proposal to make amendments to procedural codes, which could provide the right of people to the access to justice in quarantine measures, which was established to prevent the spreading of an acute respiratory disease COVID-19, in the part of holding sessions of bodies of the judiciary in the real-time mode through the Internet and continuing/stopping of terms to appeal court decisions.
In the address to the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine and the Court Security Service, the HCJ stressed on the necessity of the instant preparation of amendments to the Regulation on a temporary order of ensuring the protection of courts, bodies and institutions of the justice system, and also the maintenance of public order in them, which will provide the special aspects of people’s passing to the court taking into account instructions of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine from March 16, 2020, № 215, and filling these amendments for the approval of the High Council of Justice.