The Governments of the United States and Ukraine held the fifth meeting of the Political Dialogue / Rule of Law Working Group February 22 in Washington under the auspices of the bilateral Strategic Partnership Commission. The purpose of the Working Group is to discuss topics relevant to strengthening democracy and the rule of law in Ukraine as a core principle affirmed in the 2008 U.S.-Ukraine Strategic Partnership Charter.
The Working Group was co-chaired by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Thomas O. Melia, and Ukrainian Presidential Advisor for Judicial and Law Enforcement Reform Andriy Portnov. Also participating was USAID Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia Paige E. Alexander, U.S. officials from the Department of Justice, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrii Olefirov, and Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Oleksandr Motsyk. Observers from civil society and non-governmental organizations also attended the meeting.
The United States congratulated Ukraine on adoption of a new Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), and noted the importance of effective implementation and the need for comprehensive prosecutorial reform to strengthen the CPC by eliminating the general supervision powers of the Prosecutor General’s Office. At the same time, the U.S. expressed concern over politically-motivated prosecutions and detention of former government officials, electoral fairness and the shortcomings identified by international observers in the October 2012 parliamentary elections, resolution of disputed results in five single-member districts, the extra-legal decision by the High Administrative Court of Ukraine to strip the mandates of two members of parliament, and continuing problems of freedom of assembly, pressure on the media, and respect for rights of LGBT individuals and other vulnerable minorities.
During the meeting, Ukrainian officials raised the case of U.S. citizen Andrew Butler, who was adopted from Ukraine in 2003. The Department will continue to work to ensure that Ukrainian officials have access to the information they require.
The Working Group meeting was preceded by a parallel, roundtable discussion on Ukraine’s 2013 OSCE Chairmanship and the Human Dimension hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The discussion was led by Deputy Assistant Secretary Melia and Mr. Portnov with the participation representatives of U.S. and Ukrainian civil society organizations.