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The Ukrainian Bar Association calls on the judiciary of Ukraine to ensure remote operation of the court staff for the period of martial law

On March 29, 2022, on the 34th day of the war of the Russian Federation (RF) against Ukraine, the RF armed forces launched a missile strike on the premises of the Mykolaiv regional state administration where the Economic Court of the Mykolaiv area was also located.

As a result of the shelling, the central section of the building was destroyed, and as of the evening of March 30, authorities reported 15 dead and 33 wounded.

Destruction of the Commercial court of the Mykolaiv area isn’t an isolated case of damage to the courtroom premises. As of March 20, 2022, 4% of the total number of court premises were damaged or completely destroyed, in particular, 29 of them were critically damaged, and 3 were completely destroyed. The buildings of the Borodyanka District Court of the Kyiv Region, the Izium City District Court of the Kharkiv Region, and the Kharkiv Court of Appeal were completely destroyed. The premises of the Makariv District Court, the Chernihiv Court of Appeal, the Commercial Court of the Chernihiv Region, etc. were severely damaged.

The Ukrainian Bar Association expresses its condolences to the families of the victims. We deeply respect and admire the courage and dedication of the civil servants and the judiciary, who, despite the aggressive and indiscriminate shelling of the Russian Federation, continue to perform their professional duties.

The Russian Federation (RF), which continues to shell civilian targets and the population brutally and openly, commits crimes for which it must be held accountable. The Association recalls that under Article 8 (2) (b) (ii) of the Rome Statute, intentional assault on civilian objects, ie objects that are not used for military purposes, is a war crime. President Putin and his top military and political leadership must appear before the tribunal, as required by justice and the rule of law.

Our goal and mission are to support the Ukrainian authorities in bringing to justice every person involved in murders and atrocities in Ukraine. At the same time, in order to prevent even greater casualties among the civilian population and in particular the judiciary, the UBA appeals to the Supreme Court and the Council of Judges of Ukraine to ensure a remote regime of operations for the judiciary duringthe state of war.

On March 2, 2022, the Council of Judges of Ukraine published recommendations for the operation of courts under martial law. The Council of Judges of Ukraine recommended that all available employees, if possible, be transferred to remote work and set only the minimum number of persons who should be present in the court during the working day. Employees and judges who are unable to exercise their powers, including remotely, may apply for leave (including at their own expense). At the same time, each court must independently determine the working regime, based on the current situation in the region.

However, as early as March 14, 2022, the Council of Judges of Ukraine issued selected recommendations on the specifics of employment relationships with judges who had to leave their places of residence and locate in other cities or abroad. The Council of Judges of Ukraine recommended that the court authorities find out the real reasons for leaving their places of residence. If the court has not suspended its work nor transferred to the remote work, such judges shall be provided with paid or unpaid leave on their request with a simultaneous recommendation to return to the place of work soon as possible. When making a decision on granting leave, the court administration shall consider the actual circumstances (presence/absence of hostilities in a particular locality), the real possibility/need to return/arrival of the judge to the place of work, and the possibility of remote work. The remote work of a judge is possible only if located within Ukraine.

The Association believes that the positions and initiatives of the Council of Judges of Ukraine and the Supreme Court should be aimed at ensuring, not limiting the ability of the judiciary to work remotely during martial law.

The Association takes into account that even in martial law, a person’s constitutional right to judicial protection cannot be restricted. At the same time, all measures must be taken to ensure the safety and security of both parties to the process and the court staff.

In the conditions of constant rocket attacks on civilian infrastructure and residential buildings almost throughout Ukraine, effective and continuous functioning of the judiciary with ensuring the safety and security of parties to the process and employees of the judiciary is possible only by introducing remote work.

The Association calls for the remote operation of the judiciary for the duration of martial law and is ready to participate in the elaboration of necessary projects and initiatives.

The full text of the open appeal is available here.

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