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16.07.2008

25% of suspects remanded in custody unwarrantedly

   

Each year from 10 to 15 thousand people, or about 25 % of all remand prisoners, are held in SIZO [remand units] without grounds. These disturbing figures were given by the Minister of Justice Mykola Onishchuk on Friday during a roundtable on pre-trial detention.

The Minister explained that this is the number of people freed because the investigations are terminated by the criminal investigation or detective inquiry units; the preventive measure is changed; the case is terminated by the courts and through acquittals; suspended sentences or convictions with the person being sentenced to a form of punishment not involving deprivation of liberty.

Mr Onishchuk stated that Ukraine’s system of pre-trial detention is characterized by a high risk of human rights abuse. It is regulated by contradictory rules and requires excessively high expenditure. He said that the annual cost to the State is more than 145 million UAH in holding people in custody. He cited data presented in a report commissioned by the Ministry. In cooperation with the American Bar Association “Rule of Law Initiative”. This presents figures for the burden suffered by the remand prisoners, their families and the State.

The Minister names as a considerable failing in the present system for preventive measures and remand in custody the lack of an exhaustive list of cases and criteria for applying remand in custody as opposed to other measures.  He stresses that international standards demand the use of remand only in exceptional circumstances.

Based on information from www.minjust.gov.ua

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