Respect. Support. Justice

Representatives of the Scientific Institute of Public Law participated in the event Respect. Support. Justice, on 22 May 2023 in Kyiv.

The event brought together Ukrainian government officials, heads of law enforcement bodies, judicial administration, public sector experts and public organisations.

The purpose was to consolidate the efforts of the state and society to help victims of conflict-related sexual violence and to effectively investigate these crimes.

The Office of the Prosecutor General, in cooperation with pre-trial investigation bodies, has been already applying new approaches to the investigation and prosecution of such crimes. The priority is maximum human centricity, confidentiality, consideration of the interests of victims, and prevention of re-traumatisation.

During the event, the results of a sociological study on the attitudes and awareness of Ukrainians about CRSV, as well as the developments of experts from the public sector and public organisations on further improving practices and approaches to dealing with CRSV were presented.

The following topics were discussed during the discussion sessions:

  • Changing practices in the investigation and prosecution of CRSV crimes.

  • Informing society and overcoming prejudice against victims.

  • Providing support to victims.

Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andrii Kostin said, “It is generally accepted that for us, results are crimes documented for Ukrainian and international justice and court sentences for criminals. It is extremely important that from now on and always for Ukrainian law enforcement officers, the main results should be that the victim receives protection of his or her rights and feels the support of the state and society.”

Olha Stefanishyna, Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration said, “Most people want to leave these crimes in the corners of their memory and in the shadows of their consciousness forever because of fear, shame, and psychological trauma. This is precisely the goal pursued by criminals. They hope that the victims will remain silent. That is why we do our best to explain the importance of seeking support. Normalisation of the psycho-emotional state of victims is an important step towards their seeking justice”

Oksana Tsymbrivska, EU Project Manager of the EU Pravo-Justice Project in Ukraine said, “CRSV is the most hidden crime. We are aware that no one knows the true extent of sexual violence committed in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion. One of the main reasons for this situation is public prejudice against victims. They cause victims to remain silent for months or even years about the violent acts committed against them. Experience has shown that it takes a long time to change prejudices and stereotypes, to make everyone aware that only the perpetrator is to blame for violence. This once again emphasises the deep essence of the problem of CRSV and the need for systematic work at all levels to help victims”.

The event was attended by representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the National Police of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine, the Government, the Parliament, the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine, local authorities, public organisations and the expert community.

Among them were Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andrii Kostin, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Kareem Khan, Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna, Acting Head of the National Police Ivan Vyhivskyi, Minister of Reintegration Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets, Head of the State Judicial Administration of Ukraine Oleksii Salnikov, Deputy Minister of Defence Hanna Maliar, Managing Partner of Global Rights Compliance Wayne Jordash and others.

The event was held as part of the United for Justice initiative launched by an international conference held in Lviv on 3-5 March this year. The organisers of #U4J: Respect. Support. Justice: EU Project Pravo-Justice and the Council of Europe.