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09.12.2000

On the work of free legal aid bureaus

   

According to the project ‘Cooperation of human rights protecting NGOs in the legal aid to citizens whose rights were abused’, in Kharkov, Kyiv and Sevastopol bureaus of free legal aid have been organized. In Kharkov this bureau works in the framework of Kharkov Group for human rights protection, in Kyiv – on the basis of the Ukrainian section of the International Union of human rights, in Sevastopol – on the basis of the Sevastopol human rights protection group. The goal of the project is granting free legal defense of citizens and the perfection of the work of human rights protection networks. The legal aid is given by high-skilled advocates. From 1 January 2000 to 30 June 2000 with written requests of legal aid turned the following number of citizens:



City


Number


Kharkov


167


Kyiv


96


Sevastopol


61


Total


324


Some data about these requests are presented in Tables 1- 4.

Character and source of the violation

Table 1


State and non-state structures or private indivi-duals, on which complaints are received


Character of the complaints



Number of complaints
   

Kharkov


Kyiv


Sevastopol


Total
   

num


%


num


%


num


%


num


%


Militia


Illegal actions


15


8.98


9


9.375


17


13.2


32


9.9


Courts


Abuses during trials, too stern verdicts, detained investigations of court decisions


46


27.54


36


37.5


8


27.8


99


30.5


Prosecutor’s offices. Crime investigating bodies


Illegal actions during ODA, ill-grounded refusals in starting criminal cases


19


11.38


13


13.54


3


13.2


40


12.35


Preliminary prisons


Abuses on the side of prison personnel, upkeep conditions, inadequate medical aid


2


1.2


6


6.25


1


4.9


11


3.4


Penitentiaries


Abuses on the side of prison personnel, upkeep conditions, inadequate medical aid


1


0.6


7


7.3


10


1.6


9


2.8


Armed forces


‘Dedovshchina’, vi-olation of laws du-ring recruiting cam-paign, inadequate medical examina-tion, non-payment of compensations


30


17.96


2


2.08


6


16.3


42


12.96


Enterprises of all forms of property


Pay arrears, subsi-dies unpaid, viola-tion of labor safety rules


5


2.99


3


3.125


3


9.8


14


4.32


Councils of pe-ople’s deputies and their exe-cutive organs


Disregard of laws, compensations unpaid, complaint ignored


9


5.4


2


2.08


2


4.9


14


4.32


Medical organizations


Violation of laws


5


2.99


2


2.08


3


3.4


9


2.8


Other state structures


Actions violating human rights


26


15.57


11


11.46


0


4.9


40


12.34


Non-state establishments, private individuals


Actions violating human rights


2


1.2


5


5.21


0


0

 



7


2.16


State executive services


Non-execution of court decisions


6


3.5


0


0


0


0


6


1.85


State establish-ments of other countries


Actions violating human rights


1


0.6


0


0


61


0


1


0.3


Total
 

167


100


96


100
 

100


324


100




Social structure of citizens who turned to bureaus


Table 2


Characteristics of citizen who turned to bureaus


Type of complaints


Number of citizens who turned to bureaus
   

Kharkov


Kyiv


Sevastopol


Total
   

num


%


num


%


num


%


num


%


Incarcerated and their relatives


Complaints about verdicts, social problems


44


26.35


26


27.08


7


11.47


77


23.76


Persons under investi-gation, their relatives and witnesses


Requests about protection during investigation


23


13.77


15


15.62


9


14.74


47


14.51


Recruits and their relatives


Inadequate medical examination


20


11.98


1


1.04


1


1.64


22


6.79


Servicemen


‘Dedovshchina’, social problems


6


3.59


4


4.17


4


6.56


14


4.32


Parents of servicemen perished in peaceful time


Social problems


8


4.79


0


0


2


3.28


10


3.09


Unmarried or divorced mothers


Social problems


1


0.6


4


4.17


3


4.92


8


2.47


Families with many children


Social problems


1


0.6


3


3.125


2


3.28


6


1.85


Victims of repressions and their families


Social problems


1*


0.6


3


3.125


5


8.2


9


2.78


Victims of incidents or crimes


Reparation of damages


12


7.18


4


4.17


2


3.28


18


5.6


Invalids and their relatives


Social and medical problems


5


2.99


6


6.25


4


6.56


15


4.63


Refugees


Social problems, granting of citizenship


2


1.2


2


2.08


1


1.64


5


1.54


Religious people


Violation of laws concerning freedom of consciousness


0


0


0


0


3


4.92


3


0.93


Journalists


Complains about pressure from state


0**


0


1


1.04


4


6.56


5


1.54


Chernobyl rescuers


Social problems


1


0.6


4


4.17


0


0


5


1.54


Members of political parties and public organizations


Complaints about arbitrariness of power


0


0


2


2.08


0


0


2


0.6


Public organizations


Complaints about arbitrariness of power


0


0


0


0


2


3.28


2


0.6


Pensioners


Social and other problems


18


10.78


10


10.42


7


11.47


35


10.8


Others


Social and other problems


25


14.97


11


11.46


5


8.2


41


12.65


Total
 

167


100


96


100


61


100


324


100


* Complaints from the repressed and members of their families were considered by the Commission of restoration of rights of the repressed at the Kharkov city executive committee, in which members of the KhG I. Rapp, S. Karasik and E. Zakharov work, thus these appeals are not regarded in this table.

** Complaints from journalists to the KhG are considered in the framework of another project, thus these appeals are not regarded in this table.


Activities in the interests of complainers


Table 3


Activities in the interests of complainers


Kharkov


Kyiv


Sevas-topol


Total
 

The number of activities*


Consultations and recommendations


160


56


49


265


Aid rendered in bringing suits to court


5


6


5


16


Aid rendered in bringing cassations and complaints about surveillance


7


0


2


9


Aid rendered in handing complaints to other state bodies


67


22


17


106


Supported complaints to various state bodies


23


6


8


37


Compiled and handed complaints to the European Court of human rights


2


0


2


4


Appeals to the city or oblast administration


27


0


3


30


Appeals to the Supreme Rada, President’s administration and ombudsperson


8


7


5


20


Appeals to mass media


3


3


7


13


Financial aid granted


1


4


0


5


Aid of advocates given in trial and during investigation


2


0


5


7


Applicants who were refused


11


0


3


14


Total


316


104


106


526

* In some cases several kinds of activities in the interests of complainers were done

Till 1 June 2000 cases completed: Kharkov – 148, Kyiv – 96, Sevastopol – 61.



Results


Table 4


Result


Kharkov


Kyiv


Sevastopol


Total


Cases won in court


2


2


1


5


Criminal cases started


6


0


0


6


Criminal cases closed


1


1


1


3


The guilty punished in administrative order


1


3


0


4


Recruits additionally examined


16


0


0


16


Wrong actions of authorities stopped


8


4


3


15


Cases brought under control of General Prosecutor’s office


1


1


0


2


Released from penitentiaries


0


0


0


0


Legal requirements of claimants satisfied


24


20


7


51


Milder measures applied


1


1


3


5


Passed for control to other NGOs


1


1


0


2


Consulting aid was sufficient


32


28


19


79


Applicant has not handed necessary documents


14


8


4


26


Refuse of Supreme Court received


1


4


2


7


Cases lost in court


0


0


1


1


Starting of criminal case refused


1


0


2


3


Refuse of state bodies received


14


11


6


31


Aid refused


11


0


3


14


Miscellanies


14


12


9


35


Total


148


96


61


305


* All cases are input to our database in the unique format

Exchange of information and mutual consultations are kept all the time. Publications to ‘Prava ludyny’ and other mass media are compiled on the basis of the requests to the bureaus. Joint actions of various bureaus are especially fruitful. For example, V. I. Buriak, whose two sons stay in Kharkov preliminary prison for longer than three years, turned to the Kharkov bureau. Their case was twice returned for the auxiliary investigation, but their guilt was not proved. The Kharkov and Kyiv bureaus dealt with this case. As the result, the Supreme Court changed for the brothers Buriak the incarceration for a signature of not leaving their town. Other examples of well-coordinated joint actions were the cases of Tarasov, Kyshchyk and Syrykh. The complaints of servicemen Chebakov, Tytsia and Tonkoshkur were also workt upon by the Kharkov and Kyiv bureaus. This form of cooperation yields more effective results and raises the authority of human rights protection organizations.

If to speak about the complaints in general, the overwhelming majority of them is directed against the actions of investigation and court bodies. At a first glance, this seems to be normal, since the peculiarity of these organs always causes displeasure of certain social layers. Yet, it should not be forgotten that the qualitative state of things, in contrast to the quantitative one, deserves the most attention in this case, since it is aimed at analyzing and examining the most painful problems and defects of the national court system and investigation bodies. ‘I absolutely disagree with the court verdict’, this phrase is used, on the average, in every third letter. The majority of complainers, who write these complaints, already stay in the penitentiaries. In this case it is rather difficult to help the complainers in any way. Yet, on the base of the complaint compiled in the Sevastopol bureau, the Supreme Court directed the case of G. for a new investigation.

Citizen B. S. Zaporozhets turned to the Kyiv bureau, who complained that his son O. B. Zaporozhets had already been kept in the preliminary prison for five years. O. B. Zaporozhets is accused by the investigation bodies of Kherson by Article 93, items a and a, and by Article222, part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The claimant writes that this case was completely faked, since the accusation is fully based on groundless conclusions and fantasies, not on real proves. 27 witnesses, 80% of them being law-enforcing bodies officers. That is the reason of the offhand attitude to this case, the claimant reckons. In the response the Kyiv bureau sent the appeal to the General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine.

Professor A. N. Rubalko turned to the Kharkov Group as early as in 1993. His rights were brutally abused, his case of taking bribes was faked, and he was kept in a preliminary prison. This illegal criminal case was terminated in 1996, and in 1997 A. N. Rubalko handed in his claim about recompensing the moral and material damage caused by the illegal arrest. On 1 October 1999 the court finally satisfied his suit and decided to charge the prosecutor’s office of Crimea for recompensing the moral and material damage. Yet, after the decision came into force, the prosecutor’s office protested against this decision. In 200 in the framework of the Kharkov bureau activity juridical aid was granted about preparing the complaint to the European Court of human rights.

There are many complaints about the work of court executors. So, a group of workers of the Kharkov plant KhEMZ turned to the Kharkov bureau: the court decision to pay them their wages has not been executed for three years. After several appeals to the state court executive service, to the oblast department of justice, to the mass media, the court executive service of the Moskovskiy district of Kharkov informed that certain ways are used against the enterprise in debt. In particular, the service found 32 (!) of settlement accounts, which the enterprise concealed from the executive service. Yet, we do not consider this case closed. Now we help to the claimants to compile the complaint on the actions of the court executors to the court.

Those who turn to the bureaus are citizens of Ukraine, apatrides, citizens of other countries. So, relatives of Turkish citizens Ch. and Ya. turned to the Sevastopol bureau. Ch. and Ya. Were compulsorily kept on board of the arrested fishing schooner. The were accused of poaching in the territorial waters of Ukraine. During the arrest one fishing schooner was sunk, one person was killed on the spot and one was wounded. The schooner on which Ch. and Ya. were kept, was not suitable for long staying, so the detained lived without elementary communal services (gas, electricity, water supply, etc.). Besides, Ch. and Ya. were kept, actually, as hostages, since they were relatives of the ship owner, and the decision about the detainment was taken not by any court, but by frontier guards. The Sevastopol human rights protection group prepared the information about this incident for ‘Radio Liberty’. The State Directorate of frontier guards insisted to deny this information, yet the investigation initiated by ‘Radio Liberty’ confirmed the information. Only after this the fishermen were released.

There are certainly problems about the upkeep of the incarcerated in penitentiaries. So, M. G. Rulenko from the town of Snizhne of the Donetsk oblast sent a complaint to the Kyiv bureau. He rendered the content of the note from his son, who stay in a penitentiary of the Donetsk oblast. In this note he warned, that prison guards wanted to kill him, and listed their names. After the appeal to the Penitentiary Directorate the son was transferred to another colony, and an internal investigation was started.

Many complaints come from pensioners, handicapped, persons who had suffered from the Chernobyl catastrophe. Most of them complain at the social problems.

Unfortunately, the small budget of the project did not afford to widen qualified aid, especially by lawyers during investigations and trials. The practice has shown that the demand here is very great. Advocate aid costs too much for a wide layer of the population, and some categories of the population (pensioners, invalids, jobless) have no money at all for any juridical aid. The project did not contain expenditures for missions, and that diminished the help to those who live in the country. Here we practiced the aid by correspondence only. We sent our documents to state structures by mail, and we were unable to check what was really done. Some state structures did not respond to our requests and we had to turn to prosecutor’s offices in order to make them react. All this resulted in slowing the aid and making it less efficient.

The KhG thinks it necessary to extend its experience to other regions of Ukraine. We propose to describe these abuses in the standard format, which is very convenient for the analysis and during the transfers of cases from one organization to another.

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