Protests in another Ukrainian corrective colony
Following reports of a hunger strike involving a number of prisoners at the Zamkova Corrective Colony No. 58 in Izyaslav, a monitoring group with representatives of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group visited the colony without any warning on Nov 25.
The monitoring group visited the high security unit for life prisoners and various punishment cells, and spoke with prisoners.
They heard numerous allegations by the prisoners of rights violations by personnel which need to be sent to the relevant authorities to be checked. There were mass complaints about the head of the colony and his deputy. According to prisoners they spoke with, over 200 prisoners have been on hunger strike since 20-21 November in protest at the actions of the management. There have been no checks of their state of health by doctors since then.
A number of complaints were recorded on video. The prisoners allege:
failure to provide medical care;
use of slave labour;
use of disciplinary penalties as persecution for complaints against the personnel;
infringement of the right to unimpeded sending of letters.
The management denies that the men are on hunger strike and says that the conflict has been artificially created. It asserts that all of this is about a small number of prisoners trying to get an easing of the prison regime, one not envisaged by law. It asserts that these prisoners are stirring up others, and that it is therefore transferring the prisoners who allegedly do this to other institutions.
During a preliminary visit by the KHPG monitoring group on Aug 20, excessive use of punishment cells as a form of disciplinary penalty for small disciplinary misdemeanours (like clothing infringements) was noted.
The group also found then that there were prisoners who had not been sentenced to life imprisonment being held in the high security.
Both of the above were sent in a report to the colony administration. A letter back, signed by the head of the colony, asserted that in the high-security unit for life prisoners there were no longer any prisoners not sentenced to life. However on Nov 25 when they visited this unit, they found D., who is not a life prisoner. He complained of bad treatment by the personnel, and of not being given medical care.
Many prisoners complain of infringements of the right to work: use of unpaid labour; being forced to work or use of refusal to work as grounds for disciplinary measures. The group notes that this needs separate investigation.
Two prisoners who complained about personnel were found to have been moved after the visit on Nov 25. These prisoners have been examined by doctors and a representative of the Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Office. The results are not yet known, but the KHPG report states that if injuries were established, the appropriate proceedings will be initiated.
A previous protest at the Berdychiv Colony, as reported, resulted in further infringements with prisoners beaten by members of a special response Penitentiary Service unit and prisoners then transferred to other institutions (more details here).