UKRAINE - Abolitionist
State of civil and political rights: Partly free
Constitution: 28 June 1996
Legal System: based on civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts
Legislative System: unicameral Supreme Council (Verkhovna Rada)
Judicial System: Supreme Court and Constitutional Court which only has jurisdiction over the interpretation of constitutional laws
Religion: Orthodox majority; Catholic minority
Method of execution: shooting
International Treaties on the Death Penalty and Human Rights:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- 1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
- Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- 6th Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (concerning the abolition of the death penalty)
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Protocol No. 13 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances
- Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty) (only signed)
Ukraine abolished the death penalty in February 2000, with an overwhelming majority vote of the members of the Ukrainian parliament. The vote followed a December 1999 ruling of the Ukraine Constitutional Court judging the death penalty unconstitutional. The Court found that the punishment violated the principle of the right to life, which is enshrined in the country’s constitution, and contravened the constitutional provision that no one should be subjected to torture or to cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment.
In April 2001 Parliament approved a new Criminal Code formally abolishing the death penalty and establishing imprisonment as the maximum form of punishment. The new legislation became effective as from June 1 of the same year.
On March 11, 2003 Ukraine deposited with the Council of Europe the instrument of ratification of Protocol No 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms banning the death penalty in all circumstances. The Verkhovna Rada had ratified the protocol in November 2002.
Ukraine had promised to abolish the death penalty when it joined the Council of Europe in 1995, and the government was sharply criticized for its failure to fully abolish it. A de facto moratorium on executions was introduced in March 1997, but courts continued to pass death sentences. At the end of December 1999, 400 prisoners were reportedly under sentence of death in the Ukraine, though the last execution was carried out in March 1997. Those on death row included serial killer Anatoly Onoprienko, convicted of murdering 52 people. Many Ukrainians favoured retaining the death penalty as crime rates soared after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. About 180 people were executed in Ukraine between 1995 and March 1997.
In August 2014, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine introduced the death penalty for the gravest crimes, the republic’s press centre reported. The regulatory framework of the Russian Federation was taken as a basis of the Criminal Code of the republic, according to the press centre.
“A legislative act provides for the death penalty for the gravest crimes,” the DPR’s statement said.
On December 19, 2016, Ukraine once again co-sponsored and voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.