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04.06.2012
source: www.dw.de

Scepticism over new rules for prisoners’ healthcare

   

Ukrainian prisoners may now choose their doctor and be examined outside a penal colony.  Analysts are sceptical about the efficiency of this new innovation from the Justice Ministry.

The Justice Ministry has approved new procedure for interaction between the Penitentiary Service and medical establishments regarding medical care for prisoners. In the near future a list will be made available of medical establishments where prisoners can receive treatment.  According to the new procedure, people who have arrived at a penal institution will have an initial medical check-up with a fluorographic examination.

During the checkup, prisoners who have suffered bodily injuries will be identified, as well as those who could infect others or who need urgent medical care. The most democratic point in the document is the norm which says that a prisoner can personally choose his or her doctor, and personally, or via relatives, pay for medical services.

The Ministry asserts that this is not connected with the precedent set by treatment of Yulia Tymoshenko outside the colony.  They do however say that perhaps the case highlighted failings in the system.

Lawyer from the Centre for Political and Legal Reform, Oleksandr Banchuk is convinced that the Ministry has addressed the issue of prisoners’ treatment because of the large number of cases before the European Court of Human Rights on the right to medical care of people serving sentences. The European Court has on a number of occasions stated that the functions of the Penitentiary Service in providing medical care should be restricted.

Mr Banchuk does not conceal his doubts regarding the effectiveness of such steps.  He says that while the doctors hold a rank within the enforcement structures they will not provide diagnoses, but continue to beat prisoners, since they’re working within the one system. He believes reform of the Penitentiary Service is needed if prisoners are to receive proper medical care.

He stresses that at present everything will go past the colony administration so we won’t know whether prisoners are getting such doctors and treatment. He does not expect the Ministry of Justice to dare to make radical reforms. 

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