Ms. Victoriia Mozghova is an attorney with an impressive resume' and a passion for social justice. She spent nine years in academia, conducting research and preparing university lectures on criminal procedures and criminal code. She became a prosecutor after the end of the Russian occupation in Ukraine. While at the Prosecutor’s Office in Crimea, she and her team submitted briefings to the International Criminal Court to start criminal proceedings addressing war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the occupation. She also has experience in government, having worked as an assistant consultant to the head of the Committee on Law Enforcement in the Ukrainian parliament.
Currently, she works in policy development at the Ukrainian Institute for the Future. In this capacity, she creates legislation meant to address discrepancies and foster change in areas such as anti-corruption, organized crime, restorative justice, and reframing drug use and prosecution of addicts as a public health issue. She visited Utah in March 2019 as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program on rule of law and the U.S. judicial system.
During her time in Utah, Ms. Mozghova explored best practices in the legal sector and justice work, discovered tools to address corruption in government, and discussed the potential for change in legislation. Ms. Mozghova attended various training sessions on how to increase efficiency in government offices and how to regain the public’s trust after government scandals come to light. Her group met with various professional resources, ranging from community nonprofits to state government offices. These organizations included: the Utah Office of the Attorney General, the Utah State Court System, Salt Lake Peer Court, and the Disability Law Center.
Ms. Mozghova (second from the left) and her colleagues meeting in Utah government offices
One especially impactful moment for the rule of law IVLP group, and Ms. Mozghova in particular, was the opportunity to observe the proceedings of the Utah Drug Court. The group was able to experience firsthand the unique model, focused on eliminating drug addiction as a long-term solution to drug crimes. Ms. Mozghova was highly intrigued by the increased involvement of judges, social workers, and other parties to create solutions and goals specifically tailored to each offender. She was so impressed by what she saw at the Utah Drug Court that she decided with her colleague Anna Mischenko to create an international conference to incorporate public authorities, as well as private and civil sectors in revolutionizing how Ukraine addresses the drug issue.
The project is titled “Drug and Alcohol Addiction: Public Safety, Child Protection, Mental Health,” and aims to shift the perception of the issue from a criminal justice standpoint to a public health lens - from Ukraine to Portugal. Ms. Mozghova’s goal is for government, private and civil sectors to become engaged in the issue to the point that not only addicts but also their families, will have access to rehabilitation and mental health services. For now, she hopes to start addressing what is lacking in Ukraine’s public health structure: Starting with ensuring individuals struggling with drug addiction have someplace else to go and receive the help they need, other than prison.
After she visited Utah, Ms. Mozghova also felt a renewed sense of urgency in her work addressing corruption in the government. She feels a greater connection to her community and has a clearer understanding of how her work impacts everyday Ukrainian citizens. She is especially passionate about ensuring that the new waves of reform in her country amount to change reflected in legislation and that those changes are promptly implemented. She is eager to tell her colleagues about her trip to Utah, and the U.S., and what she learned from each professional research that pertains to their work.
Ms. Mozghova is a perfect example of an IVLP success story. She said, “If I had not gone to the U.S., and had not been in this project, I’m not sure that I would have changed to this [current] job,” where she can effect change in areas that impact many of Ukraine’s most vulnerable populations. In addition to her work in drug addiction, criminal justice, and anti-corruption in government, she is also involved in creating bills that allow for more effective prosecution of organized crime leaders, reform in Ukrainian witness protection programs, addressing the limitations of International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law in Ukrainian criminal courts, and development of mediation techniques in the Ukrainian judicial system. She has also been a key factor in developing procedures for questioning and protection of children, saying “during one year we can [implement] policies against sexual exploitation of children and criminal abuse,” further demonstrating how essential her work is.
Despite difficult and at times threatening circumstances, Ms. Mozghova has managed to be an agent of change not only in her immediate community, but also in her country, and her continent. We are in awe of Ms. Mozghova, and change-makers like her, who work tirelessly to ensure change is not only discussed but materializes in the law and applies equally to all.