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Advancing Justice and Accountability in Ukraine: Strengthening and Support of the Prison System

In its plan for Ukraine’s recovery from the consequences of the war, the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice asserts that Ukraine has opted for a European path of development. This commitment entails the steadfast adherence to the rule of law and justice across all aspects of public policy and life. It is imperative for Ukraine to address the challenges within the justice sector stemming from the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation. Despite the considerable efforts of the Ukrainian penitentiary system to shift from punitive to rehabilitative approaches in dealing with convicts and inmates, the system has encountered additional pressures on prison services due to the emergence of new offender demographics and increased detainee numbers. When the war ends, mental health and rehabilitative justice should be prioritised, as many individuals will return traumatised. The system must be socially adept to support them effectively.

The NHC is eager to work on the project of Justice and Accountability in Ukraine. Our goal is to facilitate the development of humane, effective, and responsive justice systems. Enhancing the prison system in Ukraine will also help align the country’s justice system more closely with international standards.

Our aim

Within the Justice and Accountability for Ukraine project, NHC is actively supporting the Ukrainian penitentiary system by:

  • Ensuring psychological support for prisoners and prison staff through the expansion of the online platform Samopomich, developed by the Federation Global Initiative on Psychiatry (FGIP);
  • Developing next steps and raising awareness of resocialization in Ukrainian prisons as a means to strengthen the penitentiary system;
  • Facilitating accountability and victim-centred approach via implementing and expanding the systems of restorative justice;
  • Enhancing the feasibility of alternative sanctions and increasing support for probation among the general public;
  • Assisting with the issue of addressing criminality in the post-war setting, including the specific needs of veterans and the prison population.

Representatives of IDLO, CILC, Asser Institute and the NHC at the project kick-off meeting, The Hague, January 2024

Project implementation

Funder: Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Partners: International Development Law Organization (IDLO, leading partner), Asser Institute, Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC)

Project period: September 2023 – December 2024

Budget: NHC budget € 761,445