Head of the Penal Service not above the law
The District Administrative Court in the Donetsk region on 10 June issued an important ruling in the ongoing struggle to force the State Department for the Execution of Sentences to stop concealing information of public importance. It found that the Head of the Department, Vasyl Koshchynets had behaved wrongfully by failing to provide information in the legally stipulated period on the mortality figures in the penal system. The information had been requested by the civic organization Donetsk Memorial in November 2007. The Department had at first failed to react at all, and then informed that these figures are determined “according to methodology studied in institutes”.
After the Head of Donetsk Memorial turned both to the Prosecutor General and to the court, the Department provided the information, hastily began an official check in March and found those “guilty” of not answering in timely manner. The Donetsk Court nonetheless found that the Head of the Department bore personal responsibility for not providing the information in the legally established time frame.
The court hearing is due on 17 June into another suit lodged against Koshchynets by the Head of Donetsk Memorial. This is over the failure to inform about the transfer of prisoners from the Izyaslav Penal Colony after the events in January 2007. As reported, following a hunger strike by prisoners, a special “anti-terrorist” unit was deployed in the colony and a number of prisoners beaten. Around forty prisoners were taken in the clothes they were wearing and badly beaten to two different SIZO [remand centres] in Rivne and Khmelnytsky where they are also believed to have been beaten.
The Department did not wish to provide information requested regarding this transfer.
Slightly adapted from a report by Oleksandr Bukalov