Former ECHR Judge: Sanctions will be serious if Tymoshenko not given proper treatment


It would seem that the Ukrainian authorities have decided to ignore the request from the European Court of Human Rights that the Ukrainian authorities provide adequate medical treatment to former Ukrainian Prime Minister Tymoshenko.  As reported, the Court on 15 March indicated the need for this to the Ukrainian Government under Rule 391 of the Rules of Court.

The Court did not, and could not, indicate a specific place where Ms Tymoshenko should be transferred, and the government, for example, the Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych, is trying to use this, claiming that there is no strict necessity for the former Prime Minister to be transferred to a hospital and that she can be treated in the prison colony.

Ukraine’s first Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (1997-2008), Volodymyr Butkevych does not agree.  He says that the situation with the decision regarding Tymoshenko is very clear.  The government is not absolved of its responsibility to provide proper medical assistance by the fact that a person is in prison. Rule 39 is applied when there is evidence to suggest that a person is not being given the proper medical assistance. The Court cannot state where a person should be treated but it can oblige the country with respect to whom Rule 39 is applied to give the person proper medical care.

“Obviously the government can say that it is providing Tymoshenko with medical care in prison. There is apparently such a possibility. However I would warn that there will later be an investigation”. If that shows that the government did not behave properly, there will be liability for this on top of any other liability which the Court establishes.

Volodymyr Butkevych stresses that the very fact of the application of Rule 39 indicates that the Court does not believe the prison is in a position to provide the necessary medical care.

If Tymoshenko does not get the necessary care, he says, the sanctions will be significant.

If the Justice Minister has any grounds for doubting the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, he should put forward the relevant submission to the Court, and not call for the decision to not be implemented.

Much abridged from an interview for Glavcom

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