Head of the Department for the Execution of Sentences broke the law


The ruling which found that the Head of the Department for the Execution of Sentences [the Department] Vasyl Koshchynets had acted unlawfully in failing to provide information in timely fashion has come into force.

The Head of the human rights organization Donetsk Memorial, Oleksandr Bukalov at the end of 2007 sent Vasyl Koshchynets a request for information regarding the methodology for calculating mortality rates in penal institutions. Whereas Donetsk Memorial, using the Department’s statistics calculates that number of deaths is almost not falling, the Department has officially provided information claiming that these figures have lowered. Having not received the information, Donetsk Memoria was forced to turn first to the Prosecutor General, then to the court.

The Donetsk District Administrative Court on 10 June 2008 passed a ruling on Mr Bukalov’s administrative suit which found that the behaviour of the Head of the Department in not providing the information in timely manner had been unlawful. This ruling did not come into force since the Head of the Department appealed to the Donetsk Administrative Court of Appeal.  The latter found shortcomings in the appeal and demanded that the Head of the Department rectify them by 22 September by providing the documents regarding payment of court fees. Since this had not been done, on 25 September the Court of Appeal ruled that the appeal be returned to the person who had lodged it (i.e. Head of the Department).

This means that the decision from 10 June which found the Department’s failure to provide information about how they calculate mortality rates unlawful is now in force.

On 9 October the same administrative court is due to consider another analogous claim from the Head of Donetsk Memorial against Vasyl Koshchynets.  This claim concerns the refusal to provide information regarding the procedure for transferring prisoners from Izyaslav Penal Colony No. 31 after the events in January 2007.  As reported here, the special “anti-terrorist unit” is believed to have been deployed a few days after a hunger strike by prisoners, which was called off following a visit by a commission from the State Department for the Execution of Sentences.  The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group ascertained that the special force men, in masks and military gear, beat up around 40 prisoners believed to have been the organizers of the hunger strike. These prisoners were then sent, in the clothes they had on and without their personal possessions to the Rivne and Khmelnytsky SIZO [pre-trial detention centres].

Based on information posted at

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