Four times more police officers have been brought to answer for their abuses in the last 18 months
The Ministry of Internal Affairs reports that the number of criminal investigations connected with police abuses was four times higher in 2005 and 2006 than in 2004. Deputy Minister of Internal Affair Oleksandr Novikov explained the figures at a press conference in Kyiv as being due to the fact that police officers were simply not brought to answer for such crimes before since it was those officers who had the best showings for solved crimes, etc.
“Over these 8 months we have brought disciplinary charges against 4 thousand 211 officers”, Mr Novikov stated. He added that 297 people had been dismissed from law enforcement agencies, and 495 criminal investigations had been launched over police actions.
The Deputy Minister commented that the efforts to combat this began with the new team in the top management of the MIA, headed by the Minister Yury Lutsenko.
At the same time he emphasized that it was not possible to overcome such police abuse merely through punitive measures and methods within the department. In his opinion, to really resolve the problem, reforms could not be limited to only the MIA, but needed to be broadened to the level of nationwide consideration.
Novikov reminded those present that any cases of violations committed by MIA officers are passed to the prosecutors office. He also noted that courts very often do not fully carry out their duty, while frequently police officers dismissed for infringements are actually reinstated through the courts.
He did however say that specific measures were being taken. In particular, police work is now not assessed on the number of solved and averted crimes, but by the attitude of the public to the people in any given region.
New methodology was being introduced for training employees of the law enforcement agencies in accordance with international standards. In particular, he noted that a number of officers are presently on practice in the USA and will later share their experience with the Ukrainian colleagues.
Another move is that the Department of external security of the MIA has moved over to a 24-hour duty schedule.
The Chair of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on legislative provisions for law enforcement work, Volodymyr Stretovych, in analyzing the situation in the MIA, said: “The country is changing and the activities of law enforcement agencies are not”. He considers the MIA system to be extremely conservative.
Stretovych noted also that at present 5.2 thousand specialists who graduated from MIA educational institutes have not fulfilled their obligations, choosing other jobs instead.
“This has resulted in a staffing shortage in the MIA: we have investigators working who have a pedagogical or physical education background”. This is resulting, he believes, in the quality of investigation material being very low, and therefore the courts are often unable to determine the level of punishment due to the poor level of evidence.
He added that the Verkhovna Rada Committee which he chairs aims to organize parliamentary control over the activities of the law enforcement agencies, and called on journalists to join them in this.
At a press conference in Donetsk yesterday the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Oleksandr Medvedko reported that over the first eight months of this year crime figures in Ukraine fell by 17.3%