Brief results of the poll carried out by the Kharkiv institute of social research in the framework of the project “Campaign against torture and cruel treatment during the pre-trial investigation in Ukraine”
The poll showed that the practice of illegal application of violence is quite common in the activities of Ukrainian militia. 23% of respondents got into the situations, when militia could inflict them beating and torture (stay in an investigative isolation ward or temporary detention center, transportation to a militia station as a suspected, detention and search in the street by militia patrol, summon to a militia station as a suspected or a witness). One third of the respondents, who contacted militia in that way (7.3% of the total number of respondents), underwent the illegal violence aimed at clearance or investigation of crimes. 3% have become the victims of illegal violence on the side of militia officers during past 12 months, 6% -- before this period. Among the members of families, relatives and close friends of 10-12% of the respondents there is at least one person, which has suffered from violence applied by law-enforcers.
The poll has showed that probability to become a victim of illegal violence on the side of militia officers is rather great: 65% for the persons staying in investigative wards, 57% for the persons staying in temporary detention centers, 36% -- for the persons transported to a militia station as suspected, 31% -- for the detained and searched in the street and 8% -- for witnesses summoned to a militia station. Even if there were no such situations in the life of a person, all the same, there is 1% of probability to become a victim of illegal violence on the side of law-enforcing officers.
The most frequent forms of physical violence during detention are cruel treatment, torture and beating; in the course of investigation – beating, infliction of bodily injuries, less often – torture with use of special means and methods. The most commonly used forms of psychical violence are: degrading treatment, intimidation, threats (in particular, concerning near relations) and blackmail.
On the whole, 52% of the respondents reckon that illegal violence may not be applied under any circumstances; 31% believe that it may be applied only in extraordinary cases; 14% justify the application of violence to some concrete groups and categories of people and 3% are sure that the work of militia.
The main reasons of illegal violence, in the opinion of population, are such: “impunity of militia officers, who use violence” (48% of respondents pointed at that factor); “low professional and cultural level of militia officers” (38%); “bad selection of personnel, when people with sadistic propensity get to militia” (35%).
The population believes that the following measures should be taken for prevention of illegal physical and psychical violence: to punish severely the militiamen for application of unjustified violence, cruelty, torture (52% of respondents suggested this measure); to improve the selection of candidates to the work in militia (50%); to improve the training of militia officers in special educational establishments (40%). However, only small part of respondents believes that it is possible to extirpate the illegal violence in the activities of law-enforcing organs during next three years.
The respondents mentioned the following drawbacks peculiar to militia officers: use of service authorities for personal enrichment (49%); unwillingness to help “the common citizens” (39%); low cultural level (39%); rudeness and callousness (33%). This opinion is expressed both by population as a whole and the victims of illegal violence, but the latter more frequently point at the use of service authorities for personal enrichment, rudeness, callousness and unhealthy inclination to aggression and humiliation of other people.
Among the main drawbacks peculiar to militia as a state organ, the respondents mentioned the following ones: corruption, coercion of citizens to bribe-giving (50%); permissiveness, misuse of power and service authorities (38%); cover-up, impunity of militiamen violating laws (35%); inefficient control over the activities of militia on the side of higher organs (30%).
The respondents, who had suffered from the illegal violence, pointed at the following drawbacks: corruption, coercion of citizens to bribe-giving (61%); cover-up, impunity of militiamen violating laws (49%); permissiveness, misuse of power and service authorities (42%); application of physical and psychical violence as admissible methods of work (38%); internal corruption, payment for appointment to posts (35%).
The poll showed that, in the opinion of public, the application of physical and psychical violence as admissible methods of work occupies the 8th-9th place by importance for the population. Yet, for the victims of the illegal violence, these methods have 4th place among the drawbacks of the work of law-enforcing organs.
Prevalence of illegal violence in the activities of Ukrainian militia significantly undermines the credence of population to militia, credence to the state as a whole, credence to the President. Besides, this factor also influences the readiness of population to assist militia. Among those, who reckon that the illegal violence is widespread in practices of Ukrainian militia, 54% do not give credence to militia, 49% do not trust to the Ukrainian state as a whole; among those, who have the opposite opinion, only 15% do not trust to militia and 22% -- to the state.
Thus, the practice of application of illegal violence by Ukrainian militia is widespread, 7% of the respondents have experienced it by themselves, and in the closes circle of every tenth respondent there is at least one person, who has suffered from the violence.
The public opinion adequately reflects the situation. One half of the respondents regard the application of illegal violence as inadmissible, second half justifies the illegal violence in some infrequent cases, but by no means for improvement of characteristics of work of law-enforcing organs. Besides, the respondents do not accept the illegal violence as a temporary mean for struggle with crime. Yet, the population does not consider the illegal violence to be the main drawback in the work of Ukrainian militia.