Brutal beating of Berdychiv prisoners
There is an ominous sense of déjà vu about reports that prisoners at a Ukrainian corrective colony have been beaten during a ‘search’ only weeks after reports that 20 prisoners had gone on hunger strike in protest at conditions and treatment.
Kharkiv Human Rights Group received information on Nov 12 about a mass search at Berdychiv corrective colony No. 70 where prisoners were badly beaten. Some prisoners were then moved from the prison, including those who had been beaten. KHPG visited the colony on Nov 14, together with representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Office, as well as Kyiv SIZO [pre-trial detention unit] No. 13 to which four of the prisoners were moved.
The accompanying doctor found that 6 prisoners had bodily injuries believed to be the result of beating.
KHPG stresses that the European Court of Human Rights has already found cases where prisoners were beaten as a form of intimidation to be in breach of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights which prohibits torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Two crucial judgments have been over beatings at the Izyaslav Corrective Colony No. 58 in Khmelnytsky oblast. In the case of Davydov and Others v. Ukraine, the Court found that there had been four violations of Article 3 of the Convention (prohibiting torture and ill-treatment); Article 8 § 1 (the right to respect for correspondence); Article 13 (the right to an effective remedy); Article 34 (the right to individual complaints) as well as failure to provide the necessary conditions for examination of the case, as per Article 38 § 1(a).
In the case of Karabet and Others v. Ukraine, the Court found in favour of a group of prisoners of the Izyaslav Prison tortured in search and security operation following their hunger strike in 2007.
The Court held, unanimously, that there had been: two violations of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights, on account of the applicants having been subjected to torture and on account of the lack of an effective investigation into their allegations of torture; and a violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property)
The case concerned the treatment of a group of detainees during and after a search and security operation conducted in January 2007 in Izyaslav Prison. The Court held in particular that the large-scale violence against the prisoners, intended to punish them for their peaceful hunger strike, had amounted to torture.
The applicants were all serving prison sentences in Izyaslav Prison, where, on 14 January 2007, they participated in a hunger strike to protest about the conditions of their detention together with almost all the 1, 120 prisoners detained there at the time. On 22 January 2007, the prison authorities conducted a security operation, in which 137 officers – a number of whom belonged to a special forces unit - were involved and which included, in particular, searches of the premises and body searches of a group of 41 detainees. Immediately after the search, 41 prisoners, whom the authorities considered to be the organisers of the hunger strike, including 17 of the 18 applicants, were transferred to different detention facilities in a rushed manner without the possibility to collect their personal belongings.
KHPG and representatives of the Ombudsperson’s office are holding a joint press conference on Nov 19 (13.00, at the Interfax Ukraine offices) to demand that a proper investigation be carried out into the events at Berdychiv Corrective Colony.