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02.04.2008

Events in Penal Colony No. 100

   

On 27 March the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group received several reports about various difficulties in colony No. 100 in the Kharkiv region.

On 28 March the official site of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences carried a press release stating that: “The State Department for the Execution of Sentences officially reports that on 27 March in the Temnivska corrective colony No. 100, 24 prisoners, after lights out, used razors from single-use shavers to inflict insignificant cuts to their wrists. The prisoners say that their actions were due to the harsh regime they are held in.  They are, for example, demanding to be allowed to move freely around the institution.

No physical force or special measures were used against the prisoners.

At the present time the situation in the colony is stable. A commission made up of representatives of the

State Department for the Execution of Sentences, the Department’s division in the Kharkiv region, the regional prosecutor’s office and representatives of human rights organizations is working at the scene.”

However, according to information which human rights organizations have, the situation has remained unstable.  On 28 March most of the prisoners protesting against the inhumane conditions were not able to meet with representatives of the media and the public who were allowed into the colony.  Ludmila Klochko from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group contacted the deputy chair of the Public Council under the Department’s division who was in the colony, together with the head of the division itself, but was unable to find out anything. It was she who informed Kharkiv journalists about the incident in the colony.

While in the colony, Ms Klochko met with prisoners who had inflicted injuries upon themselves.  She explained that of course she had not been allowed to speak to the men without members of the Administration being present, however she had found out from Mr Serebryansky, the prisoner who had first begun the protest, that he had acted thus because of the biased attitude of the unit leader. The prisoners themselves are afraid that a criminal case will be brought against them under Article 391 of the Criminal Code. The Administration deny any such intention and say that Serebryansky has only 54 days of his sentence left, and the member of staff said that he had no desire to see the man in his colony any longer.

Serebryansky and another 20 men feel OK. Some have one hand and others both hands bandaged.

Ms Klochko reports that the situation was much more unsettled in the living area where the prisoners had gathered demanding that their fellow-prisoners be returned since they were afraid for the latter’s life and health.

Rumours are flying about spetsnaz [a special forces unit] and the men asked Ms Klochko if she had seen anything. She had indeed seen two or three men in camouflage and black masks entering the colony.

The prisoners had various complaints, regarding bad treatment in general; not being allowed short or long-term visits; medical care – with a person suffering from asthma complaining of not being allowed to have an inhaler with him – the head of the colony noted this, and hopefully the problem will be resolved.  A person living with HIV said that he was receiving no treatment at all. Many pointed to the high mortality rate, saying that in their unit three people had died in a short period.

On 29 March Ludmila Klochko and lawyer Arkady Bushchenko were not allowed to visit No. 100, with the reason given being that representatives of the Ombudsperson Nina Karpachova were there. The Ombudsperson herself did not come. 

However after numerous calls, Ludmila Klochko was allowed in, she obtained promises that no force would be applied against the prisoners who then agreed to stop their hunger strike.

It would seem that the Ombudsperson did come on 30 March and that her representatives are still in the colony.

The prisoners are presently making only one demand – that no sanctions, no physical force or spetsnaz be applied before the investigation is concluded.

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