Second Public Defender Office Launched in Ukraine
BILA TSIRKVA, Ukraine—Ukraine's second pilot public defender office was launched last week in Bila Tsirkva, outside Kyiv. Lawyers from the office will help protect the rights of criminal defendants by providing free legal aid and operating a 24 hour hotline to ensure timely access to counsel for the accused.
A cooperation agreement committing local police to refer cases to the public defender office was signed by the Kyiv Regional Department of Police and the director of the Bila Tsirkva public defender office at the launch ceremony for the new office. The ceremony was attended by a number of senior Ukrainian officials, including the vice president of the Kyiv Bar, the president of the Bila Tsirkva court, and representatives of the Ministry of Justice and the Kyiv Regional Police.
"We welcome the pilot public defender project here in Bila Tsirkva," said Volodymyr Sanin, president of the Bila Tsirkva court. "This is the first time that high-quality legal services will be accessible to every indigent criminal defendant in Bila Tsirkva for free."
The first Ukrainian public defender office was launched in Kharkiv in July 2006. A third office is scheduled to open by the end of 2007. This initiative is part of a project on legal aid reform in Ukraine operated by the Open Society Justice Initiative and the International Renaissance Foundation with support from the Viktor Pinchuk Foundation.