war crimes in Ukraine

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Sitting of the Kharkov press-club: “Reform of the law-enforcing organs as a method for the struggle against corruption”

Ludmila Klochko, Kharkov
The sitting was held on 5 November and was devoted to the reform of militia.
On 5 November a sitting of the Kharkov press-club was held on the topic “Reform of the law-enforcing organs as a method for the struggle against corruption”. Aleksandr Yarmysh, the rector of the National University of Internal affairs, Aleksandr Tarasenko, a deputy head of the Minister of Interior of Ukraine in the Kharkov oblast, and advocate Arkadiy Bushchenko, a representative of the Kharkov group for human rights protection, took part in this sitting. Major-general of militia Yarmysh recollected about Cathon, an ancient Roman political figure, who had finished every his speech with the same words: “Carthage must be destroyed!”. Yarmysh compared this ancient motto with the modern appeals about the reform of militia. Yes, the reform is necessary. The militia needs the material and technical maintenance, but the most important problem is the change of the attitude of people to militia and its functions. Since the Soviet times we still believe that militia must protect the state, but not to serve the citizens. Change of the mentality is the most important task, which is facing now the Ukrainian law-enforcers. Mr. Yarmysh, who officially became the rector of the National University of Internal affairs only one month ago, dreams that sometime his university will become “the militia Sorbonne” and believes that his task is “to educate the professionals of new type, who will consider necessary to serve people”.

Colonel Tarasenko came to the press conference directly from the intercom seminar devoted to the questions of the militia reform. The main goal of the reform is the pass from the protection of state interests to the protection of people, their rights and legal interests. Mr. Tarasenko declared that the struggle for the “percentage of the disclosed crimes” would become a thing of the past, and the work of militia would be assessed by the number of cases passed to court. One investigating officer will have to pass four cases per month. The Kharkov militia will focus attention on the immediate response to citizens’ complaints; there should not be any refusals to accept a complaint. The oblast directorate promised to fight grimly against the misuses of power committed by militia officers.

A. Bushchenko informed that the Kharkov group for human rights protection had begun a great three-year project “Campaign against torture and cruel treatment in Ukraine”. The existence of such disgraceful phenomenon as torture deprives our state of the hope to become a European country.

The most acute moment of the press conference was the reaction of the militia top officers to the speeches of human rights protectors concerning torture. The deputy head of the oblast directorate did not deny the existence of this phenomenon, but he pointed out that sometimes militia officers applied such illegal actions to accelerate the disclosure of crimes, “when they does not want to work with their brains”. Mr. Tarasenko told that, in spite of very attentive attitude to the complaints against the illegal actions of militiamen, only 10 complaints out of 400 had been confirmed, in the rest of cases the actions of militia had been acknowledged as legal. Besides, he said: “Only some “partisan”, who spent recent ten years in a forest, can be ignorant of the European Convention on human rights and of the European Court”. So, the militia is interested in the cooperation with independent human rights protecting organizations.

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