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13.09.2004

Human rights in Ukraine: annual report of Amnesty International for 2003.

   

Torture and cruel treatment

Many complaints were received against torture and cruel treatment on the side of militia officers and prison guards. In April ombudsperson Nina Karpacheva informed in her annual report to the Ukrainian Parliament that during two past years about 12 thousand persons complained that they had underwent torture or cruel treatment, most often in the course of interrogations with the purpose of obtaining confessions. Militia officers beat the detained, suspended them in uncomfortable positions by handcuffed wrists, suffocated them with plastic bags and gas masks and tortured them with electric current. As a result, many of the detained got serious traumas; several persons died. Frequently the detained were deprived of the right to choose advocates or doctors by their own wish, as well as the right to inform their relatives about the detention.

- In September the UNO committee of human rights issued the Resolution that the trial against Azer Gariverdy-ogly Aliev, who was condemned to death penalty, did not correspond to the standards of fair trial. Advocate was not admitted to him during first five months of imprisonment. Aliev was arrested in the town of Makeevka on the suspicion of murder committed in August 1996, and in April 1997 the capital sentence was pronounced to him. Azer Gariverdy-ogly Aliev insists that he and his pregnant wife underwent cruel treatment and torture on the side of militia officers during four days of interrogations after the arrest.

- According to the available information, in the middle of October the prosecutor of the Donetsk oblast instituted the case after the facts of torture in penitentiary establishment No. 120. The prison guards tortured a 25-years-old convict; as a result he got the injuries of both feet, which caused the amputation. The incident occurred because the prisoner refused to obey the orders of the guards.

- According to the available information, in November 20-years-old Sergey Berdiugin died in a hospital in Odessa as a result of cruel treatment during the preliminary investigation.

European Court of human rights

In April the European Court of human rights took the decision in favor of six persons, which, in the 90s, were kept in the cells for the condemned to the capital punishment in several Ukrainian prisons. These persons handed to the European Court the complaints against cruel, inhumane and degrading upkeep conditions in custody. In the case of Borislav Poltoratskiy the court made the conclusion that the upkeep conditions caused «the considerable moral sufferings, which humiliated his humane dignity» (paragraph 146). The Court resolved that he, together with other convicts staying in this cell in the Ivano-Frankivsk prison, «was locked in the cell of extremely small size for 24 hours per day; windows of the cell were closed, so the natural light did not get into the cell; the possibility to walk outdoors was absent, as well as the possibility to do something or to communicate with other people» (paragraph 145).

Violence against women

The violence in family is still very widespread in Ukraine, although the data of the official statistics on this problem are absent. In the end of 2002 Ukraine informed the UNO committee of human rights about the measures taken for the prevention of violence in family, in particular, adoption of the Law on prevention of violence in family, which contained the list of state organs and agencies responsible for the conduction of prophylactic measures, and introduction of new procedures for the investigation of violence in family, creation of the network of special establishments for the victims of violence in family, such as crisis centers, refuges, centers of social rehabilitation, etc. In spite of all these positive measures, women, who want to resort to the legal protection, come across the significant obstacles and difficulties.

Freedom of expression

The anxiety is expressed often about the freedom of mass media in our country. In February the Council of Europe published the report of experts on the freedom of expression and freedom of information in Ukraine. The report was compiled after the results of the visit to Ukraine in November 2002. It is pointed out in the final section of the report: «We have to repeat the conclusion made in our report for 2000: Ukraine gives many grounds for anxiety in the sphere of the freedom of speech and information» (paragraph 34). The report also pays attention to the series of problems, such as: great number of claims against mass media on the protection of honor and dignity, as well as enormous size of compensations of the inflicted damage; contradictory policy of licensing of the activities of radio stations and TV channels; attempts of the power to influence the informational contents of mass media and offences against journalists.

Although some acting and former officials of the Ministry of Interior allegedly were arrested in the connection with the disappearance of independent journalist Georgiy Gongadze in September 2000, the investigation, in fact, reached a deadlock in the end of October, when General Prosecutor Sviatoslav Piskun, who controlled the investigation, was dismissed from his post by President Kuchma. The opinion is expressed by some people that this dismissal was connected with the above-mentioned arrests.

Ukrainian Association «Amnesty International»

(044) 469-70-27, e-mail: office@amnesty.org.ua

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