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13.05.2011

Ukrainians more often tortured in police custody and prisons

   

 

Human rights activists and the relatives of victims assert that incidents of torture in prisons, SIZO [pre-trial detention centres] and police custody are becoming more common and the number of deaths there has doubled in the last year.

They see the reasons as lying in the lack of public control, the demands from management to “solve crimes” at any cost, as well as the flaws in the judicial system. This they believe sets the scene for torture, the dragging out of the pre-trial investigation and abuse by Ukrainian courts of remand in custody. This trend has been noted in recent cases in the European Court of Human Rights.

Cases of torture are confirmed by representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs who are promising to change the principles of criminal investigation in Ukraine.

Kyiv resident Serhiy Karpelenko was maimed by his period in police custody. He was brutally beaten after being detained on suspicion of stealing a mobile telephone. Later, while in the SIZO, he was not given treatment and also contracted pneumonia, his mother Zoya Karpelenko recounts.

Another victim, the former Rector of the Kryvy Rikh National University, Anatoly Temchenko was tortured for a year and half in the city SIZO, where he was held on suspicion of receiving a bribe. He has several chronic illnesses, including diabetes and tuberculosis yet has not received proper treatment. As reported, during the hearings, ambulances have needed to be called on several occasions.

According to Andriy Didenko from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group such cases are widespread In Ukraine. He says that over recent times there have been more and more cases of torture, as well as inhuman treatment and unendurable conditions which according to European standards constitutes torture.

“Statistics from the Kharkiv Institute for Sociological Research suggest an increase in the use of torture. During the year the number of cases of torture in police custody and in all places of confinement rose from 600 thousand 700 thousand over the year. The number of deaths rose in the year from 23 to 51”.

The Head of the Department for Human Rights Observance in the MIA, Makar Barylo acknowledges that there are cases of torture within the law enforcement bodies, but he claims that the Ministry is now doing everything to minimize this.

He says that the problem has long existed and is of a systemic nature, but believes that the numbers are much less than700 thousand a year. He asserts that the Minister is taking a number of measures to fight torture, including public control and the creation of mobile groups.  Minister, Anatoly Mohylyov recently acknowledged cases of torture by police officers towards detainees. The Prosecutor General also promised to try to eradicate such cases of torture.

According to representative of the Human Rights Ombudsperson in charge of overseeing penitentiary institutions, Anatoly Paliy, violations of human rights in police custody and prisons are continuing and those responsible are not usually brought to answer.

“Over the last year we had 149 criminal investigations over cases of violence in police custody and the penitentiary system. Only 121 got to the courts and only 65 officers were imprisoned. Half got suspended sentences and are presently at liberty.”

Analysts believe here needs to be a total overhaul of criminal procedure legislation which they see as a relic of the Soviet repressive system

Slightly abridged from the report at http://www.radiosvoboda.org/content/article/24098411.html

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