Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee publishes report on Ukraine
On 21 June the Council of Europes Committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CPT) published its report on its visit to Ukraine in 2005, together with the response of the Ukrainian Government. These documents have been made public at the request of the Ukrainian authorities.
The 2005 visit revealed a slight reduction as regards the scale of the phenomenon of ill-treatment. Nevertheless, the report concludes that persons detained by the police continue to run a significant risk of being subject to ill-treatment, in particular during the phase of initial questioning by operational officers. The CPT has recommended that a clear message of “zero tolerance” of torture and other forms of ill-treatment be delivered from the highest level and at regular intervals to all Internal Affairs staff. Other recommendations made in the report aim at strengthening the fundamental safeguards against ill-treatment (in particular, the rights of notification of custody, access to a lawyer and access to a doctor). The CPT has also called upon the Ukrainian authorities to put an end to the practice of holding persons in district police stations for periods exceeding a few hours.
Particular attention was paid during the visit to the situation of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation. A significant number of them complained about ill-treatment by Border Guard staff. Conditions at the Pavshino Temporary Holding Centre for men were so inadequate that the CPTs delegation had requested its closure and the setting up of new facilities. In their response, the Ukrainian authorities indicate that two new holding centres for foreign nationals are being built in the Volyn and Chernigiv regions; in the meantime, steps are being taken to improve conditions of detention at the Pavshino Centre.
No allegations of recent physical ill-treatment of prisoners by staff were heard, except at Colony No.100 for men in Temnivka (Kharkiv region), where a number of inmates alleged having been beaten when transferred to the disciplinary and isolation section. Material conditions of detention in Colony No. 65 for women in Bozhkivske (Poltava region) and Colony No. 100 were the best ever seen by a CPT delegation in Ukraine. However, at Colony No. 65, the delegation observed a general state of physical and mental exhaustion among the women, as a result of the work-rate imposed upon them.
During the 2005 visit, close attention was also given to the situation of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. No improvements were observed as regards the treatment of life-sentenced men, despite previous recommendations by the CPT. The Committee has called upon the Ukrainian authorities to take a number of steps in this area, including to stop the systematic handcuffing of such prisoners when taken out of the cells and to increase substantially their entitlement to visits.