Shocking statistics in Ukrainian penal institutions
This year the number of people held in SIZO [ore-trial detention centres] and penal institutions rose by around 8, 500 inmates. Over the year there was also a 45 percent increase in the number of deaths. Human rights workers speak of an “intensification in the penal policy of the state”,
The trend towards an increase in the population of penal institutions and in the number of deaths there reflected in State Penitentiary Service figures has been seen for the last two years. According to Yevhen Zakharov, Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, if the Ukrainian justice system maintains this trend much further, there will soon be a shortage of places in penal institutions as there has long been in SIZO, at least in Simferopol, Donetsk, Kyiv and Kharkiv. “There are more people inside than is necessary and not when it’s necessary. The courts still oblige the investigators who want to question witnesses when it’s convenient, don’t want to apply bail, release on a guarantee; a signed undertaking not to abscond.”
Last year, according to the State Penitentiary Service, 808 people died in places of confinement, while just in the first half of this year there were 601, An increase of 45% in the number of deaths and 22% in the number of suicides is seen by Oleksandr Syrota, a Kharkiv human rights worker, as being clearly due to inadequate food with 6-8 UAH being spent on this per person (less than 1 EUR); an increase in the number of drug addicts and rapid spread of tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis. He says that he has only heard of preventive treatment against tuberculosis, not seen any. He believes it possible that prisoners are being given medication beyond its sell-by date. “Timely provision of quality medical care is virtually an exception from the rules. We have many complaints from prisoners”, Yevhen Zakharov says. He adds that the penal service often fosters the spread of infection. He points out that there is an order with a list of illnesses when seriously ill people may not be kept imprisoned. Some should have been released but are not.