Accounting Chamber issues damning report on Penal Reforms


Ukraine’s Accounting Chamber has issued a report on its recent audit of the State Programme for Improving Convicted and Remand Prisoners’ Conditions for 2006-2010.  The aims, it says, were noble and took into account Ukraine’s aspirations towards a democratic life within the European community.

However the audit showed that the money allocated was spent inefficiently and the programme itself failed. None of the measures were implemented while partial implementation by the State Penitentiary Service (the former heads of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences, V. Koshchynets and S. Halinsky) of particular measures did not lead to an improvement in the conditions in penal institutions.

The situation as regards observance of prisoners’ rights has not only failed to improve but has in fact considerably worsened. The number of prisoners and detainees increases by the year with 154 thousand people at the end of 2010 in prisons and SIZO [remand units].  The number of deaths is also increasing which in no way follows the declared aim of improving conditions. In 2010 808 people died in penal institutions and SIZO, 44 more than the previous year.

In 80 out of 151 penal institutions living space does not meet the norms of the Criminal Procedure Code. The situation is also unacceptable in SIZO where people remanded in custody are forced to take turns sleeping due to lack of space. Disease is prevalent due to over-crowded and unsanitary conditions, poor food, etc. During 2010 there were over 86 thousand cases of illness among convicted prisoners and people remanded in custody.

The Accounting Chamber also notes problems with finding work for prisoners, with only around 40 thousand provided with useful employment.  An absolute majority of prisoners have no money at all in their personal accounts.

The situation thus remains very difficult, and needs to become an urgent priority for the State. They suggest learning from European experience, for example, through introducing a system of probation, and say that amendments are made to penal legislation. 

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