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02.07.2006

Extended meeting held in the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine

   

From the “Prava ludyny” editorial board: On 23 June 2006 an extended meeting took place in the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine on “The situation as regards observance of constitutional civil rights in places using enforced measures linked with restriction of personal liberty, remand in custody and deprivation of liberty”.  Material from their press release is given below.

Information from the Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Oleksandr Ivanovych Shinalsky

Statistical data:

Number of convicted individuals and prisoners in institutions of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences (2005)  – 195,169

of whom:

140.887  received sentences not involving deprivation of liberty;

54.282 were sentenced to deprivation of liberty;

Number of people in holding cells of city and district police stations

in 2005 – 457,103

for the first 5 months of 2006 - 176.482

“Prava ludyny” comment: In our opinion, more correct and fuller statistics are those provided in the annual report “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2005”

 

Type of punishment:

Number convicted

To deprivation of liberty for a certain period 

54 114 / 27,7%

Life imprisonment

168 /0,08%

Corrective labour

2 221 / 1,1%

Community work

3 800 / 1,95%

Arrest

2 219 /  1,1%

A fine

12 963 / 6,6%

Suspended sentence

109 362 / 56,0%

Restriction of liberty

4 502  / 2,3%

Total

195 169

 

  Checks carried out by the Department for overseeing the observance of laws on enforcing court rulings in criminal cases and other enforced measures of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine found that breaches of the Constitution, current legislation and international norms and standards were continuing and were of a systematic nature in the following: while people are held in police stations; in temporary holding facilities (ITT); in special reception centres for people under administrative arrest; in centres for the reception and distribution of vagrants of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Pavshino Temporary Holding Centre for foreign nationals and stateless people illegally in Ukraine of the State Border Guard of Ukraine; in pre-trial detention centres (SIZO) and while serving sentences in corrective and educational penal colonies of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences. 

In particular, Internal Affairs agencies gravely violate the requirements of current legislation that people may be detained in holding rooms of district police stations for no longer than 3 hours. Just in the current year 175 thousand people were taken to such rooms, of which 75 thousand were held longer than the period permitted.  People sentenced to administrative arrest, detained for vagrancy, those remanded in custody, or those convicted are illegally held in these premises for a long time. Such cases have become especially widespread in Kyiv. The Prosecutor General’s office in the current year pointed this out to the city prosecutor’s office however there has been no improvement since.

It must be noted that Internal Affairs agencies do not comply with the demands of the European Committee against Torture presented during the last visit of the Committee in October last year on putting an immediate stop to the illegal and long-term detention of those detained or arrested in Internal Affairs institutions, as a result of which Article 10 § 2 of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment may be applied with the making of a public statement regarding this non-fulfilment.

In most ITT of city district police stations the rights of prisoners are not observed, as are not the requirement to treat them humanely. Relatives are not informed where the person is being held, the detained person’s rights are not explained. The requirements of the Law of Ukraine “On fighting tuberculosis as regards ensuring that individuals detained or arrested who are suffering from tuberculosis receive specialized treatment under guard in territorial tuberculosis medical establishments” are not being adequately adhered to. A large number of people with tuberculosis are held without appropriate medical treatment in ITT of Internal Affairs bodies and rooms for detained individuals in city district police stations.

Overall, last year of 2,434 people with tuberculosis being held in ITT, only 719 were detained and treated in specialized institutions of the Ministry of Health (only every third person). This not only violates the rights of the prisoners, but leads to the further spreading of the dangerous disease.

The conditions in which those detained or arrested are held in ITT in the Crimea, the Dnipropetrovsk, Zhytomyr, Transcarpathian, Odessa, Sumy, Kherson, Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Chernihiv regions can be described as inhuman and degrading treatment. Prisoners are held in semi-basement and basement premises not suited for holding people, in which there are not even the basic conditions for people staying there for a long time.

Police officers systematically violate legal requirements as to a ten-day maximum period of detention.  Despite legal requirements, in the ITT in Sevastopol during this year 85 people spent more than 10 days, of whom 28 were held for more than 3 months, 11 – more than 6 months and 5 more than a year. Of these 17 were found guilty by the courts. In the ITT of the Donetsk City Department of the MIA for the region 35 people were illegally held for more than 10 days, of whom 3 were held for more than 2 months, 4 over 3 months, 1 person each over 5 and 8 months  Such a negative tendency of violation of constitutional civil rights was also typical for the Crimea, the Kyiv, Lviv, Sumy, Poltava, Kherson and Chernihiv regions, as well as for the city of Kyiv.

The ITT staff virtually entirely fail to fulfil legal requirements with regard to separating different categories of prisoners. In the Donetsk, Zhytomyr, Luhansk, Mykolaiv, Ternopil and Kharkiv regions such infringements also include the detention of minors and people who previously worked in the law enforcement agencies.

Violations of the law have not been rooted out in the work of special centres for the reception and distribution of those detained on suspicion of vagrancy.  The appropriate everyday material and hygiene conditions are very bad in these establishments and this year sanitary-epidemiologic services closed 17 such centres, 16 of them in the Kharkiv region. More than 15 thousand persons were held in these centres last year, while in the first quarter of this year – more than 3 thousand.

Police officers continue to illegally detain people suspected of having committed a crime for vagrancy. This violation was recorded in the Vinnytsa, Zhytomyr, Kirovohrad, Odessa, Poltava, Ternopil and Chernihiv regions.

In all regions of Ukraine police officers flagrantly violate the demands of Article 32 of the Law of Ukraine “On the legal status of foreign nationals and stateless individuals”, and illegally, without the sanction of  the prosecutor hold foreign nationals and stateless individuals subject to deportation in centres for the reception and distribution of those detained on suspicion of vagrancy   Such incidents were recorded in the Donetsk, Cherkasy, Chernihiv and other regions and in the city of Kyiv.

In violation of Resolution № 1110 of the Cabinet of Ministers from 17.07. 2003 the single Temporary Holding Centre for foreign nationals and stateless people in Ukraine “Pavshino” is subordinate to the Mukachevo Border Guard Unit of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine. Just last year this institution which does not comply with the Law “On the legal status of foreign nationals and stateless individuals”, held 2,237 foreign nationals from 34 different countries. The question of transferring this unit to the MIA has still not been resolved.

In interregional centres and units of the forensic psychiatric services  for people remanded in custody, the Law “On pre-trial detention” is infringed with regard to separate holding facilities for different categories of remand prisoners. Due to the lack of properly equipped territory and premises, walks and visits are not granted everywhere. The lack of well-organized interaction between investigators, convoy and expert units leads to infringements of fixed time periods for expert assessments.

There are numerous infringements by heads of enterprises of penal institutions in the sphere of production and commercial activities. A considerable part of the colony enterprises’ output is sold through barter transactions this totally negating the sense of involving prisoners in the work. Due to this prisoners are effectively deprived of the right to receive real wages, and are not able to compensate expenditure on their upkeep and the harm inflicted by the crime committed.  .

With a lack of joint efforts by local state administrations and heads of enterprises of penal institutions aimed at integrating these enterprises into the industrial complex of the region, lack of adequate consideration of issues of profitability and liquidity of the enterprises’ output, surpluses of this output are increasing rapidly and on 1 May 2006 totalled 61 million UH

The right of convicted prisoners and the interests of the state are seriously compromised by the unsatisfactory situation as regards complying with involving prisoners in work, this making it impossible for them to compensate the losses they causes and payment of alimony. Out of 109,570 able-bodied prisoners only 36,632 were engaged in paid work.

Consequently the debt of penal institutions on the amounts that must be paid by prisoners to plaintiffs is constantly on the rise and presently stands at almost 29 thousand UH, including 5.6 million in alimony. S Safety regulations are flagrantly breached in the colony enterprises.  The top management of the State Department for the execution of sentences and its local divisions are failing to react properly or to inform the Government about the almost total deterioration of industrial premises and equipment which makes it impossible to observe industrial safety norms. Despite numerous formal reactions by the prosecutor’s office to this issue, prisoners are still taken to work places which are hazardous to life and health.

There continue to be serious shortcomings and miscalculations in the work of the State Department for the execution of sentences on selecting, placing and training staff for pre-trial and penal institutions, with these negatively influencing the observance of legality in these institutions.  Just last year 50 offences were committed by the staff of these institutions, this figure including 12 crimes.

These violations of constitutional civil liberties which are widespread as a result of inadequate departmental control have become possible, in particular, as a result of the weakening of the control of the prosecutor’s office. . The lack of a comprehensive approach to the organization of prosecutor supervision, increase in the number of documents produced by prosecutors instead of fundamental  reaction, has not promoted the real elimination of laws and improvement of the situation.

Press-service of the Prosecutor General’s office

***

The meeting was addressed by the Deputy Minister of Health, Valeriy Ivasyuk who believes that the State Department for the execution of sentences needs to be dissolved, and something else created. He said that the situation with the spreading of tuberculosis in places of deprivation of liberty at the present time is critical. He stressed that often healthy people are placed in pre-trial detention centres together with people who are ill.  He also noted that criminal liability is envisaged in law for deliberately infecting somebody with AIDS or tuberculosis.  Such liability, he emphasized needed to exist in places of deprivation of liberty when healthy people are held together with those who are ill.

V. Ivasyuk said that tuberculosis, especially in places of deprivation of liberty is associated with such dangerous diseases as AIDS and drug addiction. “Who do they release into the outside world? Not merely people with tuberculosis, but those to who cannot be treated. You are creating clones who infect society”, he commented.

***

After the meeting in the Prosecutor General’s office, Oleksandr Bondarenko, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs told journalists that human rights violations in penal institutions were not on a mass scale.

He stressed that while there were shortcomings in the work of the law enforcement agencies these were not mass violations of human rights, especially in penal institutions.  He also said that the bad conditions for prisoners was first of all, connected with lack of financing but also to some extent, with the human factor. He pointed out that the Ministry planned to heighten control over administrations of city and district bodies. “We will work with our subordinates”, said Mr. Bondarenko.

Volodymyr Mayevskiy, the head of the department of public safety of the MIA, stated that disciplinary proceedings had been brought against 2.9 thousand law enforcement officers, 78 criminal investigations had been initiated, and 10 officials had been dismissed.

V. Mayevskiy said that over the past years the Ministry has taken measures to improve conditions in penal institutions. Reconstruction was being carried out in 98 pre-trial detention centres, and 21 special establishments were being built. He explained that bad conditions in penal institutions were also connected with the fact that in Soviet times such special establishments had been built improperly and that the Ministry of Internal Affairs was not responsible for this situation.

He also stressed that police salaries were not a small factor. “How a person works depends on their salary”. He added that the work of a professional should be well-paid and remanded his audience that at the present time an ordinary police officer receives 600-700 UH a month (120-130USD).

Our informant

 

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