Kharkiv human rights activists name the reasons for the recent cases of attempted suicide (or self-injury) in penal institutions
The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group considers that the acts of self-injury amongst people on remand or prisoners in the Kharkiv pre-trial detention centre and Lviv penal settlement were the direct result of cruel treatment from the administrations of these institutions.
KHPG has sent a statement to this effect to Manfred Novak, the UN Human Rights Commissions Special Investigator on Torture.
The document explains that the mass suicide attempt (according to other versions, attempt at self-injury) was begun, as information KHPG has received suggests, on 8 May by 21 remand prisoners at the Kharkiv pre-trial detention centre (SIZO). It was then repeated on 13 May by convicted prisoners in the Lviv penal settlement No. 30 with medium level of security (the former strict regime).
The human rights activists are convinced that both these cases resulted from brutally carried out searches during which the inmates were beaten and their food stocks destroyed.
Despite statements from the administration that none of those participating in the actions will be punished, human rights activists report that they have been informed through confidential sources that in Kharkiv 3 of the leaders of the protest have been put into punishment isolation cells, while in Lviv instructions have been issued to transfer participant in the protest to other institutions, with criminal charges being laid which will result in the courts increasing their sentences.
"We fear that the mass attempts at self-injury (other reports suggest suicide attempts) will not be properly investigated. We are also worried that prisoners who resorted to such extreme forms of protest to draw attention to their plight will face serious punishment”, the statement reads.
As reported earlier, on 24 May prisoners of the Lviv penal settlement No. 30 inflicted injuries upon themselves.
They decided on such a step to show their support of remand prisoners who had made suicide attempts in Kharkiv, as well as to put pressure on the administration of the colony.
According to information from the press service of the Kharkiv regional state administration, on 9 May 13 inmates of the Kharkiv SIZO (pre-trial detention centre) attempted suicide.
However, information from the press service of the Kharkiv regional prosecutors office gives instead the figure of 21 people taking part in the protest suicide attempts out of the 39 people being held in the same cell of the SIZO. The prosecutor office states that those involved did not actually cut their veins only, but “only” made small cuts to their wrists with razorblades.