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09.12.2000 | A. Bukalov, Donetsk

The court statistics in Ukraine shows no changes

   

The Donetsk ‘Memorial’ has received statistical data on the activities of Ukrainian courts for the first half of 2000. These data are represented in Table 1. The table contents also the data for the three previous years, which enables us to follow some changes (or the absence of such changes) in the penitentiary system.

It follows from the data of Table 1 (for 1997 – data of the state penitentiary department, for 1998 and later – of the Ministry of Justice) that the current year has not brought substantial changes. Incarceration remains the main kind of criminal punishment and its proportion during the past decade remains very large (in 1998 – 32%, in 1992 – 33.7% of the total number of the condemned). The new Criminal Code, that enables the judges to apply other kinds of punishment, still wonders in the Supreme Rada. Still there are suspicions that adopting this code will not affect the actual work of courts. And the reason for these suspicions is the fact that punishments others than incarceration do exist in the current Criminal Code, but they are very seldom applied. Alas, Ukrainian courts do not hurry to use even these restrained opportunities.

Table 1

 

1997


1998


1999


1st half-year of 2000


Number of the condemned


257790


232598


222239


115902


To incarceration among them, persons

% of the total number of the condemned



85396

33.13



86437

37.16



83399

37.53



42151

36.37



The fined, % of the total number of the condemned


9.04


5.96


3.95


3.41


Condemned minors, persons

% of the total number of the condemned



No data

--



18165

7.81



17652

7.94



10212

8.81



Incarcerated minors among them, persons

% of the total number of condemned minors



No data

 

--



4945

 

27.2



4444

 

25.2



2464

 

24.1



Condemned women among them, persons

% of the total number of the condemned



No data

 

--



35140

 

15.11



32175

 

14.48



15798

 

13.63



The number of the condemned up to 3 years

49145

51061

49032

25016



The same in % of the total number of the condemned

57.5

59.07

58.79

59.35



The number of non-guilty verdicts


No data


884


774


375


The same in % of the total number of verdicts

--

0.343

0.348

0.32



The number of death verdicts


128


131


120


48*

* -- since 2000 to the incarceration for life

With alarm one must state that the crime is becoming younger. The proportion of the condemned minors continues to grow. Almost 25 hundred of minors got behind the bars during the first half of the current year. This is a very serious symptom: who knows how many of them after the release will be corrected?

The number of the condemned women continues to be enormous – more than 15 thousand during the half-year.

Perhaps, there is one more very troublesome number – the number of verdicts up to three years of incarceration, i.e. for petty crimes. Lately this number has almost not changed – about 59%. This year more than 25 thousand people were punishment with ‘short’ incarceration. Compare, this year, in August, on the consecutive amnesty (it is celebrated once a year as birthday), 13 thousand people must leave the penitentiaries. The overwhelming majority of them belong to the above-mentioned 59% of the punished as petty criminals. As Aleksandr Ptashinskiy, the first deputy of the head of the Penitentiary Department, remarked, only 35 persons out of 19 thousand amnestied in 1999 committed crimes again. And a similar picture is observed every year. Alas, this petty criminals being little dangerous for the society, are directed behind the bars by scores of thousands – they are directed to the places where there are no medicine, no work, very scarce food and information hunger.

No one counted what great damage is caused to our beggarly people by such punishments. As a rule, the damage brought by such people is many times smaller than the expenditures for their upkeep in the colony during 2 – 3 years.

At the same time the number of fines is steadily diminishing.

The number of non-guilty verdicts remains unnaturally low – 375 for half a year. As a rule, it is less than one thousand for a full year. If someone got under a suspicion and became an accused, then some verdict would be given; the suspect would be found guilty.

Another indicator is interesting. That is a number of verdicts for life, now a kind of equivalent of the death penalty. Opponents of the abolishment of this wild punishment frightened the public that only the death penalty kept in check potential killers, and that its cancellation will start massive murders. The ratification of Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention of human rights did not result in the growth of murders. This fact is actively used in the discussions by the opponents of the death penalty. Moreover, the number of verdicts, which replaced the death penalty, did decrease! For the first time in the recent years the number of the sternest verdicts may appear less than one hundred in the end of the year.

We have got some data of oblast directorates of justice for the first half of the year. These data enable us to compare the work of judges in various regions of Ukraine. We have chosen two indicators: the proportion of the incarcerated to the total number of the condemned (column ‘incarcerated’) and the same indicator, but for minors (column ‘incarcerated minors’). These data are presented in Table 2.

Table 2


Region


Incarcerated, %


Incarcerated minors, %


Volyn oblast


30.3


21.3


Lviv oblast


32.2


22.0


Zhytomir oblast


32.6


20.7


Nikolayev oblast


38.3


24.0


Odessa oblast


39.1


27.9


Lugansk oblast


34.1


25.0


City of Kyiv


48.7


35.2


Donetsk oblast (1999)


42.0


--


Average value for Ukraine


26.37


24.1

As always, judges in the South and East Ukraine give out sterner verdicts. Usually Kyiv is singled out, although in the adjoined Zhytomir oblast (and, according tot he data of 1999, the Chernigiv oblast too) the indicators are noticeably lower than on the average in Ukraine. The judges of the Central and Western oblasts of Ukraine are more reticent in the application of incarceration.

It should be noted that the requests of the Donetsk ‘Memorial’ for the statistical data are always accurately satisfied by the Ministry of Justice, as well, as by a number of oblast directorates of justice. On the contrary, some other oblast directorates ignore our requests, thus violating the law ‘On information’. But sometimes we get responses in a very interesting from. For example, B. M. Guk, the deputy head of the department of justice of the Cherkassy oblast, wrote ‘The Cherkassy oblast department of justice regularly sends you not the statistical information, but the explanation that the requested information may give only the Ministry of Justice. We have never given you the information and we do not intend to do it in future because of the reasons quoted above, so we ask you not to make us waste state money for mail’. Possibly, this is the way in which the Cherkassy oblast department of justice tries to find the finances for reforming the justice in the country.

To sum up we may remark that slight differences in the work of the judges in various regions of the country do not change the total picture. This system in Ukraine continues to remain too cruel. Such a system can hardly cause a real decrease of the crime level and, maybe, it favors further growth of the crime. This system, in fact, weakly protects the rights of the victims of the crimes. At the same time, this system encourages the violation of human rights of those who gets to penitentiaries, since the convicted have no rights for protecting their health, have no rights for education, for the free access to information. For many of them the right to be protected from torture, from degrading treatment or punishment is also violated. These are the rights they loose, though by the verdict of the court they are only deprived of the right for freedom.

The system of criminal justice in Ukraine continues to be a callous mechanism of revenge, instead of being a system whose main function is the provision of safety of other citizens.
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