Human Rights in Ukraine. Website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
13.12.2001 | Volodymir Liashko, radio ’Liberty’.

The number of convicts in penitentiaries is gradually diminishing.


According to the information of the press center of the Penitentiary Directorate, 190 thousand people are kept in penitentiaries by 15 October. (Before the recent amnesty there were 235 thousand, 35 thousand were released by the amnesty. By the way, as UNIAN agency informed, keeping in custody as a preventive measure became more seldom after 21 June, when the decisions about preventive measures began to be taken by courts and not by prosecutor. – Editor). The reason is that cases are reconsidered owing to the adoption of the new Criminal Code. Yet, the number of the detained is still too large. These people need moral support to step on the path of reforming and to return to the society as law-obedient citizens.

Filaret, the Patriarch of Kyiv, all Russia and Ukraine, signed the agreement about the cooperation of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyivan Patriarchy) and the State Penitentiary Directorate. The document stipulates the guardianship of church over convicts.

The situation in Ukrainian preliminary prisons remains very complicated even after the significant reduction of the number of prisoners. Overcrowded cells, a large number of TB cases, undernourishment, shortage of needed medical drugs – all this became a routine of the Ukrainian penitentiary system. That is why the initiative of church deserves the greatest publicity.

Signing the documents, General-lieutenant Vladimir Liovochkin, the head of the Penitentiary Directorate, highly assessed the role of church in the reforming process and thanked for the cooperation. The beneficial influence of church on convicts was observed in the Kyivan Lukyanivska prison, where church of St. Job Long-suffering began to act two years ago. In the opinion of Patriarch Filaret the process of public servicing, which is the ancient function of church, resumes step by step.

Now the all-Ukrainian inter-confessional Christian mission for spiritual guardianship in penitentiaries is created and acting. The mission, among others, coordinates the ties with Catholic and Protestant churches throughout the world. As Patriarch Filaret informed, Christians from different religious communities of the world will help materially to Ukrainian penitentiaries – will share medical drugs, food, etc.

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