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07.05.2006

Human rights activists wish to check the activities of special enforcement units (riot police, etc)

   

Recently the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and other human rights organizations have received complaints concerning the inclusion in different penal institutions under the State Department on Penal Matters of supplementary subdivisions (possibly OMON – riot squads), whose officers wear masks and are equipped with special devices.  These subdivisions engage in cruel and humiliating activities. According to reports from prisoners, members of these units have applied unwarranted and unacceptable violence, force inmates to perform exhausting and humiliating exercises, while those who do not obey the orders of members of the units are beaten, including with clubs, or thrown into punishment isolation cells. Despite the fact that some prisoners have needed emergency medical attention, none was provided. The activities of these units also involved causing damage and stealing personal items belonging to prisoners.

With regard to this, in April 2006 the UHHRU sent a letter to the President of Ukraine, the Prime Minister, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the State Department on Penal Matters and the Human Rights Ombudsperson calling for a commission to be formed with the participation of nongovernmental organizations to investigate the legality of creating such supplementary subdivisions in penal institutions and of the activities of such units.

Human rights activists are also asking that members of the commission be given the authority to speak on a confidential basis with prisoners.

Separate demands were also put to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine calling for adequate measures to be taken to ensure the safety of prisoners who have provided or intend to provide information about the activities of supplementary subdivisions created in institutions within the State Department on Penal Matters in April 2006.

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