Tymoshenko arrest highlights need for improvements to detention units
According to Andriy Didenko from the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, bringing former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to the Pechersky District Court two or three hours before the court hearing could be described as ill-treatment or even torture. He adds that the procedure for transporting remand or convicting prisoners “is pretty exhausting and we consider this to really be ill-treatment” He explains that the issue is one that they have raised many times. It applies to both first instance and appellate courts. The normative documents of the State Penitentiary Service which is in charge of SIZO [remand units] state that detainees are kept isolated in special premises on the day of a court hearing. They can be held there an hour, two, or even more. They are supposed to have some kind of packed food, but Didenko says that he has never seen this rule being observed.
He adds that the special premises are not suited for keeping detainees, and they don’t usually even have a toilet. “They are virtually deprived of food, since parcels from relatives, in accordance with MIA instructions, are prohibited”.
“The detention of former high-ranking public officials like Lutsenko, Tymoshenko, has only raised this issue and gained publicity, but it did not appear today or yesterday. In my opinion this could help get certain changes in the transportation of detainees”.
He noted that torture is not only about physical violence, but can include improper conditions of detention, and also failure to provide medical assistance.
The Batkivshchyna Party has stated that Tymoshenko is being subjected to torture by being taken to the court so early, three hours before the hearing, and held in a tiny room with bars.
The Vinnytsa Human Rights Group has also stated that it is a violation of her rights to be held in a cell with smokers.