In a trial, in addition to the judge, the prosecutor plays an important role. Prosecutors must monitor compliance with the laws and support the public prosecution in court. However, their activities are not tied only to the very purpose of bringing the case to the verdict, but should be carried out with respect for the rights of other participants in the process.
However, there are situations when the prosecutor violates the rules of professional ethics or labor regulations. For example, they tell their colleagues what decisions to adopt in cases, delay filing a declaration of income, or lie about it.
What should you do if you come across a prosecutor lacking integrity? There is a way out — to file a disciplinary complaint. How to do it, and what will happen?
What can you complain about?
To file a complaint, you must clearly know which rules the prosecutor is breaking. Article 43 of the Law of Ukraine On the Prosecutor’s Office defines the following grounds to bring the prosecutor to justice:
– failure to fulfill or improper fulfillment of official duties;
– unreasonable delay in considering an appeal;
– disclosure of secrets protected by law, which became known to the prosecutor during the exercise of their powers;
– violation of the procedure established by law for filing a declaration of property, income, expenses and financial liabilities;
– committing actions that discredit the title of prosecutor and may raise doubts about their objectivity, impartiality, and independence, as well as the honesty and integrity of the prosecutor’s office;
– systematic (2+ times during the year) or one-time gross violation of the rules of prosecutorial ethics;
– violation of the rules of internal service regulations;
– an intervention or any other illegal influence of a prosecutor on the work of another prosecutor, staff members, officials, or judges. This also applies to public statements regarding their actions, in the absence of signs of an administrative or criminal offense;
– a public statement violating the presumption of innocence.
Which bodies to appeal to?
Disciplinary proceedings against prosecutors are carried out by the Qualification and Disciplinary Commission of Public Prosecutors (QDCP), and you can apply to it only if the prosecutor violates the above rules and regulations. Anyone who has become aware of facts of a violation can file a complaint. The QDCP posted a sample of the recommended disciplinary complaint on its website.
If the prosecutor closed the criminal proceedings, did not recognize the person as a victim, or committed something else, in particular, specified in Art. 303 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine, then this is a completely different case. In such situations, their actions can be appealed only in the manner prescribed by the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine. Disciplinary proceedings are useless here, so you should distinguish between them.
What awaits the prosecutor if their violations are confirmed?
Article 49 of the Law of Ukraine On the Prosecutor’s Office allows the following disciplinary sanctions against the prosecutor:
– prohibition to be transferred to a higher-level prosecutor’s office or to a higher position in their prosecutor’s office (except for the Prosecutor General);
– dismissal from the position of prosecutor.
How are disciplinary complaints considered in practice?
All decisions on the results of disciplinary complaints are published on the QDCP website.
For example, according to the results of consideration of the complaint against prosecutor M.V. Mykhailov of the Holosiivskyi District Prosecutor’s Office, the prosecutor was dismissed. What was the complaint all about?
Prosecutor Mykhailov M.V., temporarily exercising the powers of a prosecutor in the Drohobych District Prosecutor’s Office of Lviv Oblast, offered his colleague to use her official position. This was necessary in order to assist Mykhailov, as well as his acquaintances, in creating artificial grounds for evading military service by officials of the Drohobych-Boryslav district territorial center of recruitment and social support. For this, Mykhailov promised that he and his friends were ready to financially thank their colleague and employees of the center. Allegedly, the friends were ready to pay “as much as necessary.” In the end, the QDCP dismissed Mykhailov.
In addition, Prosecutor Mykhailov refused to speak with his colleague in Ukrainian — even after the remark that it was mandatory in a state institution. He refused and said that he communicated in Russian all his life and did not want to violate his principles when he was called upon to do so.
Another example is the decision regarding prosecutor R.I. Voronka of the Lviv Regional Prosecutor’s Office, who was also dismissed from his post based on the results of the consideration of the complaint.
The fact is that prosecutor Voronka was suspected of receiving a bribe. According to the investigation, he obtained USD 2,000 in bribes for closing criminal proceedings against his acquaintance from the police. Although he hasn’t been convicted yet, the very fact of detention and serving him with charges caused a significant reputational blow to the prosecutor’s office. This news was quickly spread by the media, so a considerable number of people could have had doubts about the integrity of all employees of the Lviv Regional Prosecutor’s Office. That is why the QDCP decided to dismiss prosecutor Voronko.
As you can see, disciplinary complaints can indeed be an effective way to protect a violated right. The examples confirm it, and even the most severe punishments for prosecutors are not uncommon. So do not be afraid to defend your rights and appeal to the relevant authorities if they are violated.