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05.02.2015

KHPG: labour rights infringed in prison colonies

   

Dangerous working conditions and lack of safety mechanisms; reductions in wages or even non-payment altogether were the conditions Kharkiv Human Rights Group monitors found in prison colonies No. 25, 58, 70 and 100 in the Kharkiv, Khmelnytsky and Zhytomir oblasts.  They found several occasions where workshops were not officially registered.  The State Penitentiary Service has promised to carry out a check.

Gennady Tokarev, director of the KHPG Centre for Strategic Litigations, said that on average prisoners receive around 200 UAH a month, this being around half of what they are entitled to receive.  In fact, however, some people are on good terms with the prison administration and get two or three times more, meaning that many receive as little as 30 or 50 UAH, or nothing at all.

Prisoners have the right to paid work, and the conditions of work should differ in only certain areas from the conditions for people at liberty. That is the theory, however the practice is different, beginning with the contract of work. Since this is a contract between the prison colony and the body commissioning it, the prisoners who carry out the work are basically treated as things, not as parties to labour relations.

Anna Lytvyn, KHPG lawyer says that she and her colleague have come upon workshops which are not registered and are therefore effectively working illegally  In most production areas of prison colonies, safety requirements are infringed.

KHPG also found cases of physical pressure on prisoners.  Analogous cases were reported in the January report issued by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture [CPT]. 

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