Brief report on the work of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Public Council for the Observance of Human Rights
The following outlines only the key points of the new report. This Public Council for the Observance of Human Rights was created at the end of December 2005 and is proving a valuable means of ensuring public participation and control over the work of the law enforcement agencies. The Public Council is a consultative and advisory body aimed at promoting human rights observance in the work of the MIA.
As already reported there are 10 working groups with the following areas of focus::
- complaints alleging unlawful actions by law enforcement officers;
- protection against torture and the right to liberty and personal security in MIA work;
- MIA and human rights during elections;
- MIA and freedom of peaceful assembly;
- the right to privacy in MIA work;
- the rights of the child and the MIA;
- the rights of refugees and migrants;
- preventing domestic violence and ill-treatment of children, human trafficking and gender issues in the MIA;
- human rights education;
- normative legal and method backup for the work of the Council
As of 23 April this year, such public councils had been created attached to the department of the MIA for all regions of the country. Similar councils have also been created within higher educational institutions of the MIA, the transport police and some others.
These councils are largely made up of members of the public, at present representing 125 organizations.
These public councils are active in 11 regions: the Crimea, and the Vinnytsa, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Luhansk, Lviv, Mykolaiv, Odessa, Sumy, Chernivtsi and Chernihiv regions, while the other regions are not active enough.
Members of the public take part:
- in official investigations into complaints from the public (in the Kirovohrad and Ternopil regions);
- in staffing commissions of MIA departments when carrying out attestation of police officers (Luhansk and Mykolaiv regions);
- carry out public reception work together with MIA management (Vinnytsa, Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Luhansk, Lviv, Odessa, Chernihiv regions and Sevastopol).
The Public Council supported and developed work of MIA mobile groups on monitoring the observance of human rights in MIA places of imprisonment, mainly in its temporary holding centres [ITT].
In 2006-2007 235 ITT (48.2% of the total number) were checked.
Thus far 102 members of mobile groups have attended special training seminars held with the support of the OSCE Project Coordinator in Ukraine for law enforcement officers and human rights organizations.
A further 100 people received training in three courses run by the International Society for Human Rights and the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research supported by the MIA.
The training courses have prepared a national network of people visiting places where people are held in custody in police stations, this being a prerequisite for the creation of a national preventive mechanism against torture and ill-treatment in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT). The work of the mobile groups has been assessed highly by OSCE and Council of Europe experts
With the support of the Public Council and the International Renaissance Foundation the first legal aid offices have been opened in Kharkiv, Khmelnytsky, Bila Tserkva. Lawyers provide assistance to all those detained prior to a court ruling on placing charges and choosing a preventive measure.
On 31 May 2007 the MIA, together with members of the Public Council, drew up and approved an Action Plan of Measures for Countering Racism up to 2009. Measures have included selection meetings and organizing meetings with representatives of diplomatic institutions and international organizations. Lectures on preventing unlawful activities by radical youth gangs, run by member of the Public Council and Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ukraine A. Taranovska, were attended by over 700 police officers from all regions of the country.
The Public Council also carried out a study into how police officers rights and social guarantees are being observed, with a booklet giving the results being published in March 2007.
The experience of cooperation between civic society and the MIA is generally rated very highly.
Problem areas remaining:
Implementation of the requirements of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture regarding independent monitoring of special MIA institutions:
It is planned to extend the powers of the mobile groups, giving them the right to visit in the evening or at night, and without warning;
Ensuring support and the stabile work of the newly created MIA Department for Monitoring Human Rights in the Police Force which should become a model for joint activities between civic society institutions and the enforcement agencies;
An area pointed out as of concern is the issue of social and legal protection for police officers and the insufficiently activity work of trade unions in this field.