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03.12.2010

Open Letter over concerns regarding MIA disregard for human rights

   

In an open letter to the President, the Speaker of Parliament, Chair of the National Security and Defence Council, the Human Rights Ombudsperson and others, representatives of civic organizations have expressed their outrage over the activities of the Minister of Internal Affairs who brazenly ignored the hearings on Human Rights in the Work of the Police, organized by the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Legislative Backup for Law Enforcement Activities, together with civic organizations on 1 December 2010.

There have been negative trends in the work of the Ukrainian police during 2010, linked with politicization of the work of police bodies, forcing staff to carry out political orders, and inept staff appointments, orientation on figures (i.e. the number of criminal cases opened, “confessions”, etc – translator); overt corruption; ineffective management and use of funding for purposes other than those allocated, and flagrant violations of human rights and the rights of police staff. Against this background Anatoly Mohylyov uses all possible means to avoid communicating with the public, victims of police torture, as well as National Deputies.

The parliamentary majority also refused to hold Parliamentary hearings on this issue, voting against the draft resolution.

The MIA did all in its power to obstruct the hearings and managed to get them moved from 11 November to 1 December supposedly because of the absence of the Minister who was personally invited.

On 1 December during the hearings, the participants were again informed that he would not be there due to a foreign trip. A foreign trip is thus more important than taking part in scheduled hearings raising key issues in the work of the police.

If such actions were taken without your knowledge, it is reasonable to ask whether the country needs a minister whose actions not only run counter to the interests and safety of citizens, but to the directives and policy of the President.

We would remind you that Mr Mohylyov has on a number of occasions ignored your instructions as with carrying out a thorough investigation into the case of Ihor Indylo or with the dissolution of the Department and system for monitoring human rights in the work of the police. ystem of monitoring of

Furthermore information circulated by the MIA and its leaders is misleading both you and the public. Evidence of this is seen in the upbeat report during the hearings by the Deputy Minister, Vasyl Farynnyk on a supposed improvement in the situation. It was indicative that it was specifically during the hearings, and perhaps during the Deputy Minister’s report claiming achievements in the human rights sphere, that in Mykolaiv Special Force Berkut officers dispersed a protest by local residents who had gathered near the Mykolaiv Regional MIA to express their indignation over arbitrary actions and corruption of local law enforcement officers. (As reported, the main demonstration was by parents whose children had been killed in road accidents which were not being investigated, or where the cases were being dragged out – translator).

It is symptomatic that not one of the police officials delegated to the hearings even looked at the exposition on cases of torture of detainees in police custody prepared by the relatives of victims.

The police have yet again failed to heed the demands of the public because they did not wish to do so. The hearings were turned into a tribune for reports from representatives of the authorities and their assurances of the wish to cooperate with the public while over 10 members of civic organizations were deprived of the possibility of speaking despite the fact that their addresses had been scheduled.

As stated at the hearings, more than 2,633 reports of crimes have been made in the first 10 months of 2010 of which in only 14% of the cases did the police initiate a criminal investigation.  Taking into account these figures and the figure of 10% latency of crimes in Ukraine, as well as the fact that according to sociological surveys over 600 thousand Ukrainians are subjected to torture and ill-treatment by the police, the criminal system in the country indicates a threat to national security, the MIA has proved helpless. Even 20 years ago no less than 50%  of cases reported led to criminal files being opened.

We call on you to take measures aimed at changing the actions and policy of the MIA in order to ensure citizens’ safety and human rights, or to change the Minister and management of the MIA who have proved helpless and inactive in this sphere.

We demand that the issue of human rights in the work of the police is raised at a hearing of the National Security and Defence Council with the participation of members of human rights organizations and victims of torture by the police.

We demand your attention to these flagrant human rights violations and norms of law in the work of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

We demand protection for human rights and civic activists who are becoming victims of police harassment for their actions in helping to defending the victims of lawlessness and torture.

We reserve the right to turn to any international organizations, including the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe informing them of flagrant violations of human rights in Ukraine.

The letter is presently gathering signatures

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