Ukrainian Prosecutor General signs letter prohibiting rights violations of businesses during searches

In a bid toreduce pressureon the businesscommunity, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko in the presence of heads of structural subdivisions of the General Prosecutor's Office, Business Ombudsmen Algirdas Šemeta, and business associations signed a letter 5 October prohibiting rights violations of businesses in the course of investigative actions (the Letter).

The letter was prepared based on the results of a meeting held on 14 September 2017 between the President of Ukraine and representatives of business in connection with reports of increasing unjustified acts of pressure during judicially sanctioned searches.

In accordance with the internal procedure established by the letter, theProsecutor General has obligated his subordinates to take additional action to get approval from chiefs of law enforcement authorities for proceduresin particular investigations that potentially may limit therights and interests of business entities. The below requirements will apply to such investigations:

  • to engage special subdivisions that would ensure conduct of searches solely in limited cases (grave offences or especially grave offences, and upon physical rebuffs to an investigation). In such cases, it is required to immediately notify the Prosecutor General and his deputies about the engagement of such special subdivisions;
  • to provide for video recording of searches;
  • to ensure that attorneys unconditionally are present during searching, including after its commencement;
  • to commence searching solely upon refusal to voluntarily release the physical items specified in the court order;
  • to seize computer equipment and other data storage devices solely if they are required for forensic study or are instruments of crime, and copy information, where applicable;
  • to provide for the immediate release of seized physical items upon approval of the final procedural decision in the case.

It is important to point out that, given the legal nature of the letter, it is more advisory than binding. It is unclear so far how it will actually be applied. However, the approved procedure is expected to become an efficient instrument in the fight against the infringement of therights of businesses during searches and other investigative actions.

For more information, please contact Sergey Smirnov and Sergey Pogrebnoy