Territory of torture in Ukraine’s SIZO
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture [CPT] will shortly be presenting Ukraine’s government with its recommendations regarding Ukrainian SIZO [pre-trial isolation units]. One of the members of the recent delegation told the Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service that dialogue was coming along “slowly”.
A CPT delegation visited Ukraine from 1 to 10 December, and will be making recommendations regarding places of confinement, including SIZO. The delegation visited penal colonies in the Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Vinnytsa oblasts. They were in Colony No. 54 where former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is imprisoned, though she was at the time in Kharkiv Clinic No. 5.
On the final day of their visit the delegates handed a preliminary report to the First Deputy Justice Minister and Head of the State Penitentiary Service. The final report will be put to the Ukrainian government and only made public after being fully adopted. Johannes Fristadt, Spokesperson for the CPT Secretariat explained that until then the contents of the report will remain strictly confidential.
Mr Fristadt has been visiting Ukrainian prisons over the last seven years. He says that the treatment of prisoners can sometimes be classified as torture which he calls one of the reasons why they regularly return. They hope to see progress in that area.
Another problem he mentions is overcrowding in SIZO. He says that in their last report they cited the example of one cell where 44 people were being held. This meant that each had only one square metre of space, and there were only 28 beds in all meaning that people either had to sleep in turns or two to a bed.
He says that dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities is progressing, albeit slowly. Some of the recommendations from previous reports have been heeded. For example, they removed shades from the windows which were keeping out daylight. “At first glance this can seem like a small achievement, but believe me, for prisoners who haven’t seen daylight for a long time, it’s a very very important step.”
He is convinced that the CPT’s work was instrumental in bringing about the new Criminal Procedure Code. “This is a positive example which confirms the effectiveness of our work. The authorities assert that the new Code will resolve a number of problems. Whether this is really the case we will be able to say in our next reports”. He hopes that new laws will help to reduce the number of prisoners held in cells.
Slightly abridged (to avoid misspelling even more names!) from the report here