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27.07.2004

Open appeal of the participants of the Forum of public human rights protecting organizations “Human rights at elections” on the freedom from torture in Ukraine

   

The Forum of public human rights protecting organizations discussed the state of the protection of the right for freedom and personal integrity and the protection from torture, cruel treatment and punishment, and came to the conclusion that the violations of these fundamental freedoms are very frequent in Ukraine.

We state that the cases of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment occur more often in the following spheres:

-  application of torture to the suspected of crimes during inquiry and preliminary investigation;

-  upkeep conditions in penitentiary establishments;

-  dedovshchina in the army and application of disciplinary punishments to servicemen;

-  application of disciplinary punishments and methods of containment of the persons that stay in penitentiary establishments.

We reckon that some features of the Ukrainian legal system create the auspicious conditions for application of torture and maltreatment, namely:

We are worried by the fact that confession of the suspected is still one of the bases of the Ukrainian system of criminal proceedings, which fact provokes the law-enforcing organs to obtain the confession at any price.

We are worried by the fact that the demands of the Constitution, which permit the arrest and detainment without court decision only as exception, are not fulfilled. Deprivation of liberty without court decision still remains a rule.

We are worried by the fact that the sufficient guarantees from the ungrounded arrest or detention by law-enforcing organs are not created.

We are worried by the fact that the possibility still exists of holding in custody without court decision of the persons, concerning whom the questions about deportation or banishment are solved.

We are worried by the fact that the maximal 72-hour term of detainment without court control has become a common practice.

We are worried by the fact that in some cases the legislation envisages the possibility to keep a person in custody without court control during the unlimited term, if the person «was arrested outside the settlement, where the court acts».

We are worried by the fact that there exist no sufficient guarantees of the access of an incarcerated person to an advocate.

We are worried by the fact that there exist no guarantees of the access of an incarcerated person to a doctor.

We are worried by the fact that the state of health of the persons, who are enlisted to the Armed Forces, is not always examined properly, which creates the additional risk of maltreatment during the army service.

We are especially worried by the fact that the lack of guarantees particularly affects the representatives of most vulnerable layers of population: minors, mentally diseased persons, drug addicts, migrants, invalids, etc.

We state that, unfortunately, the Ukrainian state, contrary to its international obligations, did not create the efficient legal mechanisms for disclosure and investigation of the cases of torture and cruel treatment, as well as for punishment of the guilty. As a result, the majority of those, who are guilty of such brutal violations of human rights, remain unpunished.

We want to remark that the structures, where the risk of torture and cruel treatment is the highest, are still least accessible for public control.

Unfortunately, we have to point out that new Criminal-Executive Code of Ukraine deteriorates, in some aspects, the status of the incarcerated, even if to compare with the previous, also imperfect, Code.

We are also anxious about the fact that the draft of new Criminal-Procedural Code, presented for the consideration to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine, mostly preserves the practice, which does not meet even the minimal standards of the protection from torture and guaranteeing of the right for freedom and personal integrity, which standards must be observed by Ukraine according to international agreements.

Such situation evokes the feeling of helplessness in people, who stay under the jurisdiction of Ukraine, arouses distrust to the power and tension in the society, impedes the development of democracy and social development of the country as a whole. It also influences negatively the international image of Ukraine and restrains the international economic cooperation.

We appeal to all state institutions to make all possible efforts for improvement of the situation.

We endorse the attempts of the Ministry of Interior directed towards the change of priorities in the activities connected with human rights protection and towards the change of approaches to the assessment of effectiveness of the work of law-enforcing organs. We endorse the moves towards the openness of these structures made by the Ministry of Defense and State penitentiary department.

We reckon that the following measures should be taken for the improvement of the situation concerning the prevention of torture and protection of the right for freedom and personal integrity:

1.  To introduce the complex changes into the Ukrainian legislation, which would guarantee to every citizen the right to be safe from the ungrounded deprivation of liberty.

2.  To envisage in the legislation the urgent and unimpeded access to court for the persons, who are deprived of liberty, for verification of validity of this step.

3.  To provide the guarantees of fair legal proceedings during the consideration of the question about the validity of deprivation of liberty.

4.  To provide the guarantees of unimpeded access of the persons, who are deprived of liberty, to advocates and doctors.

5.  To create the efficient system of investigation of cases of application of torture and cruel treatment, providing:

a)  urgent and quick investigation of such cases by relatively independent organ;

b)  use of the conclusions of independent experts on equal footing with the conclusions of state experts;

c)  efficient participation of the victims in the investigation and openness of the investigation for public control.

We also believe that the state must focus more attention on training of qualified personnel for work in the spheres, where the risk of torture and cruel treatment is high, professional retraining and social protection of such personnel.

We hope that the state organs, non-governmental organizations and all Ukrainian society will do everything in their power for introduction of international standards of the protection from torture and cruel treatment, and for guaranteeing the right for freedom and personal integrity.

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