On the problem of humanization of preliminary prisons


To the President of Ukraine L. D. Kuchma

To the ombudsperson of the Supreme Rada

of Ukraine N. I. Karpacheva

To the Head of the Supreme Rada I. S. Pliushch

To the Prime-Minister of Ukraine V. A. Yushchenko

To the Head of the Constitutional Court V. E. Skomorokh

To the Head of the Supreme Court V. F. Boyko

To the General Prosecutor M. A. Potebenko

To the Ministry of Interior Yu. F. Kravchenko

To the Minister of Justice S. R. Stanik

On 4 November there was the 50th anniversary of the European Convention of human rights and basic freedoms protection. In this connection, at the meeting with the representatives of the Lugansk inhabitants on 26 October 2000, the administration of our human rights protection organization mentioned that the development of the state system in Ukraine is more and more influenced by the Convention. The incorporation of the fundamental statements of the Convention into the Second part of the Constitution of Ukraine opened the opportunity of the direct application of the international right norms to the Ukrainian legislation and law-applying practices. Meanwhile, in debating the law-applying practices in our region the participants of the discussion, specialists expressed their worries about the absence of well-coordinated strategy of the implementation of the Convention norms in the sphere of the pre-court processes, trials and penitentiary activities. The majority of abuses of human rights are due, in particular, that many practicing lawyers bred in the traditions of dominating of the state interests over private ones are unable to comprehend the absolute nature of human rights. Besides, they still do not acknowledge the Convention norms as those of the operating laws, thus disregarding Article 9 of the Constitution of Ukraine. It is not quite clear how the precedent right of the Strasbourg court can be extended to the legislation of Ukraine.

In the connection with the necessity to humanize the law-applying practices we would like to attract your attention to a concrete problem of general significance, for whose solving your participation is necessary. Our Committee investigates one of the more acute human rights protection problems: the use of torture during the investigation process in the detention blocks in militia precincts. As our experience shows, torture is applied very often. The very conditions of the upkeep can be considered as a torture, as well the interrogation procedure is a tool of moral breaking of a suspect. Often it serves the criminal practice of faking cases just to improve the reported statistics.

We know cases, which ended fatally. The latest case of this kind occured in the town of Antratsit. On 10 September 2000 Sergey Lysy (4 Petrenko St., the settlement of Bokovo-Platovoб Antratsit), a worker of Antratsit ship repair plant, was detained by militia on suspicion of stealing of metal construction. On 17 September 2000 a motor ambulance transported him from the precinct with traumas incompatible with life, as doctor I. S. Cherniavskiy said. On 18 September S. Lysy died in the intense care ward of the central town hospital.

Torture is dangerous also by the fact that it draws the officers of militia, prosecutor’s office and court into the vicious circle of criminal actions, from which there is no way out under the existing procedures of the criminal investigation, surveillance and court. Here is an extremely demonstrative and tragic example.

On 1 April 1999 militiamen from the Lutuginskiy district department of the Lugansk oblast detained a Russian citizen Vladimir V. Perekrest for ’determining his identity’ (he was visiting his relatives and had his passport on him). He was interrogated the whole day as to his connection with the recent murder of M. O. Chivik. In the process of the interrogation the militiamen started to beat Perekrest, forcing him to confess in the murder. The relatives of the detained witnessed that he was at home in the time of the murder, but their testimony was disregarded. Since Perekrest was battered, the militia did risk to release him. So the repressive machine logic was used: at first they gave an order to detain him for the alleged resistance to militia, next day the court decided to arrest him for 15 days, he was put to the detention block, where they tried to beat out the confession of the murder. As torture tools they applied a gas mask and club. After all Perekrest could not stay the torture any more, signed the confession, after which he was directed to a hospital. There doctors gave the diagnoses: acute cerebral brain trauma, brain concussion, haematoma of the crown of the head and of an ankle. In the hospital ward he was guarded by militiaman, who handcuffed him to the bed. That is the torture continued in the hospital too. After this he was again placed in the detention block for 10 days without any reasons. The complaint handed in by his advocate D. I. Gavrish about the torture was responded by the explanation: Perekrest fell down from the upper bunk in the cell. It became known during the trial that there were no upper bunks in the cell, he actually slept on a bunk 60 cm high. The testimony about his ’fall’ appeared to be false. Nonetheless, the prosecutor’s office by hook or crook tries to get the verdict of guilty. The Lutuginskiy district court twice suspected the convincing force of the accusation act, the case has been recently transferred to the Leninskiy district court of Lugansk. The legal term of keeping Perekrest in the preliminary prison has long exhausted, and his advocate considers illegal his client’s stay in the prison. This tragedy concerns not only Perekrest, it is the tragedy of all Ukrainian courts and law-enforcing system, which fast turns into a repressive machine, serving corporation interests.

We are sure that the European vector of the development of Ukraine cannot be realized without a profound change of the law-enforcing system. According to the Convention, the prohibition of torture and unconditional observance of human rights has the absolute character, and namely this presumption, but not the exchange of uniforms and signboards must be put to the base of the reform. We suggest to adopt a special law on the rules of the upkeep in detention blocks that will grant the institutional and procedural guarantees to the detained against the cruel and degrading treatment by militia on the base of European legal standards. These laws must guarantee the creation of the permanently acting independent mechanism for considering complaints about degrading treatment and torture. The present practices, when the procedures of treatment of the detained by militia are regulated by the minister’s orders, only worsens the situation. Permit me also to remind that the problems with suspects kept in the detention blocks will become worse after 28 June 2001, when item 13 of the ’Transitory rules’ of the Constitution of Ukraine will loose its juridical force. While turning to you we think that in the difficult times of the crisis the reform philosophy must grant the key role to the human rights, as the most important humanitarian resource of the development. To this end, we must develop the nation-wide human rights protection strategy to unite the efforts both of state and non-state human rights protection organizations.

Respectfully yours,

N. Kozyrev, the head of the directorate of the Public Committee of protecting constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens.

PL commentary.
We propose to all our readers, to both physical and juridical persons, to support the appeal of the Lugansk human rights protection organization. We suggest our readers to turn to the top authorities of the state with the demand to openly investigate and publicly assess the facts described by Mr. Kozyrev. We must break the chain of the irresponsible acts concerning human life, otherwise we shall have a criminal state and unprotected citizens.

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