ECHR's Representative Liddell: Consideration of Tymoshenko's second complaint may take a year or more
An exclusive interview of representative of the European Court of Human Rights, Director of Common Services at the ECHR Roderick Liddell with Interfax-Ukraine
Q.: Based on the [European] Court [of Human Rights] ruling on [former Premier Yulia] Tymoshenko's case, can we say that her arrest was politically motivated? How are we to understand the court's ruling in this regard?
A.: I think it's important to clarify in first place that the judgment concerns essentially the pre-trial detention and not the criminal proceedings. That will be the subject of a later appeal, which will be heard by the court in due course. So that means that the various violations relate to the detention, and not to the actual criminal proceedings. What the court found in relation to [Tymoshenko's] detention was that it was not in line with one of the principles of the [European] Convention [on Human Rights]. The main reason found by the trial court [for Tymoshenko's detention] was her lack of respect for the judge, and that is not a reason, according to the convention, that can justify detention. So the reason that the court found there was a violation of Article 18 is that the purpose given for the detention was not one permitted under the convention. I hope that is sufficiently clear.
Q.: Can we describe Tymoshenko's arrest as politically motivated or nor?
A.: The court did not make such a ruling. The court ruled that the detention was not imposed for a reason permitted under the convention.
Q.: Many have said that after this judgment Tymoshenko should be released immediately. Is this how we should understand the ruling of the court?
A.: I can't make any overall interpretations of the court's ruling. At this stage, the question of how it is best executed is one for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in its dialog with the Ukrainian authorities. Again, and I think that this is the way to understand it, the court ruling relates to the detention being unlawful and relates to the pre-trial detention. Mrs. Tymoshenko is no longer in pre-trial detention. She is in a different situation, as she has been imprisoned after being convicted by a court. So she is no longer in the situation to which the judgment relates - pre-trial detention.
Q.: If that is the case, how exactly can Ukraine execute this decision?
A.: Again – it is a matter for the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe if any specific measures are required, and what general measures may be required. In connection with general measures, there were number of gaps in Ukrainian legislation that the court identified and pointed out. For example, the fact that no time [limit] was placed on the detention and there was no scope for a judicial review of the detention ruling might be considered in connection with necessarily general measures that should be taken by the Ukrainian authorities to prevent this sort of violation happening again. But the matter of the execution [of the ruling] is not one for the court - it is one for the Committee of Ministers, and they will, in dialog with the Ukrainian authorities, establish which measures are necessary for the execution of the ruling.
Q.: Can you please give more specifics about the Committee of Ministers procedure - when will it start, what will it involve?
A.: I can't give you any information about timing - that is a matter for the Committee of Ministers and you have to get that information from them. The Committee of Ministers operates completely separately from the court. The court makes rulings, and then their execution is supervised by the Committee of Ministers, which is composed of [officials from] all of the member states of the Council of Europe. This is collective responsibility, in which all these states meet together to decide whether or not sufficient measures have been taken to comply with the court's ruling. I'm afraid I don't know when it will take place.
Q.: Do you have an approximate time frame for the hearing of the second of Tymoshenko's appeals? When might it be?
A.: It's difficult to give a precise date. [The appeal] has not yet been formally communicated to the government. When it is formally communicated, then a decision will have to be taken about whether or not it's necessarily to hold a public hearing, and in those circumstances it could be at least a year or more. That is the usual time for this procedure. It is not something that's going to happen in the next three or four months.