Who is the Minister of Internal Affairs speaking for?
An extraordinary interview given by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anatoly Mohylyov, has prompted a number of prominent human rights campaigners to put some hard-hitting questions to the leadership of the country. Their letter, open for endorsement, is addressed to the President, the Prosecutor General, the Minister of Internal Affairs and the Heads of the Parliamentary Committees on Legislative Provisions for Law Enforcement and on Human Rights, National Minorities and Inter-ethnic Relations.
We write with regard to words spoken by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Anatoly Mohylyov on the TV Channel Inter on 9 July 2010 during the television show “Big Politics”. His words arouse concern in the human rights community for several reasons.
Firstly, in his comments, Mr Mohylyov offered his own view of a new criterion for assessment of the work of the police, this being the number of people facing criminal prosecution. Yet the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms can be measured in terms of the percentage of solved crimes, and even less so by the number of people charged with offences. For example, in the human rights report “100 Days of the New MIA Management”, it is quite clearly demonstrated that at least 60-70% of the confiscations of weapons at present are falsified by police officers or carried out through unlawful entry of citizens’ homes. This is one of the consequences of chasing after figures for crimes solved which the MIA had supposedly rejected. Another result of this policy, baffling for Ukrainian citizens, of chasing statistics is the demand that those accused confess to some other crimes which they did not commit purely so that they can be added to the list and improve reporting.
We can only imagine how dreadful the results will be when the measuring stick for police work becomes not only crimes solved “on paper”, but live people who will, in large numbers, be prosecuted in order to comply with the figures of the new MIA reporting. We would state our emphatic protest over Mr Mohylyov’s unprofessional approach to State policy on countering crime. We should remind him that Ukraine, along with European countries, is consciously taking steps towards reducing measures of criminal repression in favour of social measures for reacting to crimes. Quantitative figures leave out of the picture the quality of crime solving, when the organizers and those who ordered a crime remain at large, yet the figures rise, for example, via trivial thefts. Yes, you need to fight them however somebody who took a bribe in the thousands, or millions, or who runs drug sales or an organized criminal gang are more dangerous to society than small-time individuals who carry out crimes, and who are used to improve statistics for police work.
The country does not have the right to risk positive achievements through the ignorance of one public official.
Secondly, the manner in which Mr Mohylyov is trying to establish order among law enforcement officers is unacceptable from the point of view of the law. The Minister’s admission that he has telephoned regional prosecutors in order that the latter apply harsher measures against police offenders (!) gives grounds for a special check since with such calls, Mr Mohylyov is endeavouring to influence the actions of the Prosecutor’s office at the level of pre-trial investigation. Such actions are unacceptable in a law-based state and we therefore demand an adequate response to the Minister’s actions.
We are thirdly disturbed by the fact that such high-publicity statements by the Minister of Internal Affairs do not elicit any response from the government. If Mr Mohylyov is thus expressing the position of the leaders of the country regarding ways of maintaining order, then we would like to know as much as possible about this position. If Mr Mohylyov was expressing only his personal view, then we would like the government to openly indicate the lack of professionalism and flaws of such actions.
Fourthly, concern is aroused also by the policy of the MIA management aimed at deliberate deception and misinformation of the public regarding MIA activities. An example Is found in the circulation of untruthful information about the supposed retention of the Department for the Monitoring of Human Rights in the police which was dissolved back in spring, and whose employees were made redundant, with this being confirmed by the relevantt notes in their work books.
Expressing confidence that our appeal will be examined, we demand that an assessment of Mr Mohylyov’s statements as a public official, and discuss these issues at a special session of the Government. We are also confident that the leaders of the country will in the near future made all necessary efforts to safeguard transparent accountable position of the MIA.
Oleksandr Bukalov, Head of the Board of Donetsk Memorial, member of the MIA Public Council on Human Rights (on ensuring observance of human rights in the work of the police)
Head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Member of the Social Action Centre
Former National Deputy, member of the Board of the Respublica Institute, member of the MIA Public Council on Human Rights
Vice President of the International Women’s Human Rights Centre La Strada – Ukraine
former National Deputy (MP), President of the International Women’s Human Rights Centre La Strada – Ukraine, Member of the MIA Public Council on Human Rights
Secretary of the MIA Public Council on Human Rights, bar lawyer
Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, Co-Chair of the MIA Public Council on Human Rights, Member of the Board of the International Memorial Society
15 July 2010