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Human rights in Ukraine – 2007. 22. Prisoners’ rights



Management of the penal system

There were no changes in the subordination of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences [hereafter the Department] in 2007.  The Department has existed as an autonomous body since 1998.[2]  The commitments which Ukraine accepted on joining the Council of Europe in 1985 on subordinating the penal system to the Ministry of Justice have still not been fulfilled.

This situation has arisen as the result of consistent opposition from the management to this subordination. And whereas in 1998-1999 this position could be justified by the need to gradually prepared for the new subordination, with time statements began being heard from the management that by the very removal of the penal system from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), the commitments to the Council of Europe had been fulfilled which is not true.

The President previously ordered the authorities to resolve the issue of the Department’s subordination by 1 April 2006 in fulfilment of the commitments to the Council of Europe. [3]  Yet this instruction has still not been enforced.

The process of handing the penal system into the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice remains full of contradiction and inconsistent.

In April 2006, the Cabinet of Ministers determined[4] that the activities of the Department should be directed and coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers via the Minister of Justice. From the content of the resolution it is not possible to reach any conclusions as to the meaning of “coordination of activities”. The resolution is also a subordinate normative act and cannot contravene the Law “On the State Penal Service” which states that the Department is a central executive body with jurisdiction to head and manage the penal system. This means that a declaration regarding “coordination of the activities of the penal system by the Ministry of Justice has no juridical content or meaning and is impossible to enforce. There are no relations of subordination between the Ministry of Justice and the Department and hierarchically speaking, they are equal.

On 11 July 2007 the Cabinet of Ministers passed Resolution No. 916 which approved new Regulations on the Department. This document states that the head of the Department shall be appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers on the Prime Minister’s submission in accordance with the proposal from the Minister of Justice.  Through Decree №667/2007 from 28 July 2007 the President suspended this Resolution. The Decree states that “through a normative legal acts the Cabinet of Ministers has defined the legal basis for the activities of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences which does not comply with the norms of Article 92 § 1.14 of the Constitution, according to which the organization and activities of penal bodies and institutions are determined solely by law.”

In spring 2007 a draft law was prepared setting out a greater degree of subordination to the Ministry of Justice however this did not receive consideration due to the dissolution of parliament.

Thus despite annual reminders from the Council of Europe about the transfer of the penal service to under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, this commitment has remained unfulfilled now for almost thirteen years.

As of the middle of 2007 the State Penal Service of Ukraine was made up of a central structure, its 25 territorial divisions, 183 institutions, 703 subdivisions of the Penal Inspectorate and educational institutions.

  The law[5] stipulates that the total number of employees needed to ensure the normal functioning of penal institutions, SIZO [pre-trial detention centres] and treatment and labour preventive centres, should be fixed at 33% of the total number of people held in the penal institutions. The personnel of the Penal Inspectorate should make up 5% of the number of people on their register. Thus the number of staff paid for out of the State Budget should come to 61735 posts. In reality the figure is lower, and over recent years has stood at 72-75% of the number needed.  At the same time, the actual number of employees (where all positions are occupied) is usually even lower than the official number of positions by 5-9%.

  The personnel are made up of two main categories of employees – certificated personnel and people employed on a free hire basis. The trends in the number of penal staff are presented in Table 1


Table 1

Rate of change in the number of staff within the Penal Service[6]










Staffing numbers

 (State budget and production)

54 787

48 011

48 315

48 074

47 767

49 185, 5

52 336

% of the legally established staffing numbers

Даних немає


72, 3%




75, 4%

Including :

- certificated

- those without specific rank

29 571

25 216

35 586

12 425

36 468

11 847

36 413

11 661

35 791

11 976

37 061

12 124, 5

38 980

13 356

The actual number of positions filled (the actual number of staff)

Даних немає

45 221

45 884


45 101, 5

45 980


48 250

The shortfall / % of the staffing number

Даних немає

2790 / 5, 8%

2431 / 5, 0%


2665, 5 / 5, 6%

3205, 5 / 6, 5%


4 080

/ 7, 8%


At the end of December 2007 the President spoke out in favour of improving the system of execution of sentences. “We need to radically change national policy in this area. At least one contemporary prison meeting modern requirements should appear in the country”. Viktor Yushchenko added that there also needed to be reform of the attitude “to people who are guarded, and those who are guarding them”. “Beginning from 2008 our policy on this issue must be different. It needs to demonstrate well-thought out, high-quality and humane policy as legislation demands.”[7]


State Policy with regard to the Penal Service’

A detailed analysis of penal legislation was given in the Report Human Rights in Ukraine – 2005. There have been no substantial changes since then.

Fulfilling its new function of directing and coordinating the work of the Penal Service, the Ministry of Justice has drawn up a draft Concept Strategy for Ukraine’s State Policy on the Execution of Criminal Sentences”. This envisages, for example, bringing the procedure and conditions for the execution of sentences into line with international standards, organizing an effective system of social adaptation for people who have served sentences of imprisonment and efficient modern training for the staff of the Penal Service.

The Department has prepared its own Development Strategy for the State Penal Service. This draft was discussed with experts from the Council of Europe, adopted at a meeting of the scientific and methodological Department Council and has been sent to the Coordination Committee of the Council of Europe on Reform of Ukraine’s Penitentiary System for processing and the relevant recommendations.. The objectives of the Development Strategy are to improve legal regulation of Penal Service work; optimize the Service’s structures and system of management, and to bring the conditions for convicted and remand prisoners into line with international standards. .

In September the President’s Press Service issued information that the President was planning to approve the Department’s Development Strategy. On 27 September UHHRU addressed an open appeal to the President calling on him to withdraw his support for this document. The main shortcomings of the Development Strategy, UHHRU stated, were:

–  reliance on a faulty understanding of the purpose of punishment and accordingly of the role, function and powers of the Penal Service;

–  the reluctance to fully move over to a civil, and not a law enforcement service;

–  the lack of clear definition of the place of the State Penal Service among government bodies;

The Strategy Plan effectively preserves and entrenches the present state of the penal system which remains to a large extent a Soviet GULAG and the State Penal Service which is yet one more law enforcement authority.

There were other appeals to the President over this and he therefore decided not to approve the

Development Strategy being proposed by the Department.

Funding for the Ukrainian Penal Service from the State Budget ha long been inadequate and on average comes to 25 - 45 percent of the normative requirement (2000 - 25, 1%, 2001. - 39, 2%, 2002  - 24, 5%, 2003. -  43, 8%, 2004. - 37, 3%, 2005. - 44, 0%, 2006. - 45, 2%).

The minimum calculated need in allocations from the general budget for the penal system in 2007 was, according to the Department’s figures, set at 2663.5 million UAH, of which operational expenditure came to 576.7 million UAH, and capital spending of 567.7 million UAH. However the Ministry of Finance only allowed in the State Budget for 1410, 9 million UAH in 2007, with this providing for 51% of the department’s needs., including remuneration - 79, 4%, food for remand and convicted prisoners –53, 8 %,   purchase of medicines 27, 8%, provision of other items - 5, 4%,   and communal services and energy - 80, 7%.  For expenditure on reforming the Penal Service, including improvements of the conditions for convicted and remand prisoners the Budget set out only 4.5% of the actual requirement

Yet each year partial funding is set out on a mandatory basis at the expense of the work of industrial enterprises of the penal colonies. In 2002 income of 60 million UAH, or around 12 million USD was anticipated.  Furthermore, the cost of holding convicted prisoners is partly paid for by those prisoners who work at the enterprises or who have money in their accounts.

It should be stressed that this source of income is fairly unreliable since the Department’s enterprises are experiencing great difficulties in providing people with work.  According to specialist on penitentiary matters O. Betsa, “the requirements in modern legislation on providing prisoners with work are not being met. At present only about 21% of able-bodied prisoners are taken to paid work (although in previous years, considerably worse from the economic point of view, 30-40% of prisoners had full-time work.)”[8]

According to the Department’s own data, “in penal institutions in the Donetsk region, there are 13, 968 people effectively without work; in the Lviv region this figure is 4045 (83.2%); the Sumy region - 2697 (87%); and Kherson region - 2647 (86.5%)”.  According to a government commission, these figures are even higher: 15, 762 people (92.8%) were without work in the Donetsk region; in the Lviv region – 4704 people (93.7%); the Sumy region - 3062 (95.9%); and Kherson region - 3019 (89.2%).  Furthermore production is often not able to compete and sells badly. To a large extent this is due to the excessively outmoded equipment in most enterprises and the lack of economic incentives. A considerable percentage of prisoners are not provided with work which causes considerable difficulty both for the prisoners themselves, and for the colony administration.[9]

In January 2005 the Ministry of Employment and Social Policy was made responsible for work on organizing and coordinating social protection for people released from places of confinement.  The Ministry is supposed to promote the development of a system of social adaptation for the homeless and those released, as well as the creation and development of the relevant institutions.  The Ministry drew up an “Action Plan on ensuring adaptation for people who have served terms of imprisonment, to 2009”, however the plan is presently awaiting approval by the Cabinet of Ministers.  It envisages the creation of an infrastructure of institutions facilitating social adaptation and providing assistance, both while people are serving their sentence, and after their release. It also allows for the training of relevant staff of the social services.

The norm-creating work of the Department also poses certain problems. Despite recommendations from human rights groups[10] regarding “the need to change priorities in norm creation, giving the preference to humanitarian values over problems pertaining to the technical functioning of the Department, and to heighten attention to human rights observance, respect for the human dignity both of prisoners and of penal institution staff” the Department continued even to a greater extent its practice of issuing normative documents which violate human rights.

For example the Head of the Department V. Koshchynets  with Order № 3/4-2329 Kn from 30 May 2007 approved Instructions on standardized procedure for visiting penal institutions and SIZO [pre-trial detention centres]. This procedure restricted access by civic organizations and journalists to penal institutions to a few hours a week – only on Saturdays and Sundays at strictly designated times, with prior permission.  In September the Order was revoked by the Prosecutor General.

Departmental documents continue to be drawn up without public participation which leads, in particular, to a low legal level and to numerous human rights infringements. The Department also fails to observe the requirements of legislation regarding the adoption of departmental normative acts pertaining to observance of human rights, and when the attention of the Department’s management is turned to such examples, it resorts to pretence of public consultation. For example, to comments that the plan for the “Instructions on visiting penal institutions and SIZO” had not been agreed with the Public Council under the President, one of the heads of the Department asserted that it had been agreed. Yet during that period there had not been any meetings of the Public Council.  It is worth noting the approaches implemented by the Department in preparing the “Instructions on visiting penal institutions and SIZO”. Clearly in itself the preparation of a normative document regulating procedure for visiting penal institutions is a positive step. It should at the same time be remembered that no normative document may narrow the scope of rights recognized in law. Furthermore such a document must base itself on international documents on human rights protection, has to comply with international human rights standards, and must under no circumstances run counter to them.

  Bearing in mind these provisos, specialists from Donetsk Memorial and the Ukrainian Penitentiary Society analyzed the draft “Instructions”.

  The analysis showed that the normative act had been drawn up with a number of infringements of the law and of the Constitution. In addition, the document fails to take into consideration the rights and interests of visitors, and often its norms allow for the possibility of infringement, i.e. the document is not balanced. It was suggested that the Department considerably review the Instructions taking the requirements of the European Penitentiary Rules into consideration. It seems that, having been submitted to the Ministry of Justice, the draft Instructions were returned to the Department for reworking.

  An important and typical element in the norm-forming work of the Department is the procedure for determining the type of penal colony in which a prisoner will serve his or her sentence. An important and characteristic element of the Department’s norm creating pertains to procedure for stipulating the type of penal colony in which a prisoner will serve his or her sentence. It is on this that the range of legal restrictions applied against prisoners when serving their sentences depends. Previously – from 1960 to the passing of the new Criminal Code in 2001, it was exclusively the court which determined the type of penal institution. Since 2001 this function has been passed to the Department and it is carried out on the basis of the “Instructions on the procedure for assigning, referring and transferring people sentenced to imprisonment in order to serve their sentence”[11].

The decision as to which type of penal colony a prisoner will be assigned to is made by a Regional Commission, attached to each pre-trial detention centre. These are made up of representatives of the institutions and regional divisions of the Department.  Similar commissions exist in many countries, however their functional purpose and procedure of work is very different from their counterparts in Ukraine. The main shortcoming in the work of the Regional Commissions is that they have been given functions which they are unsuited for. In determining the type of colony, Ukrainian commissions are guided first and foremost by formal legal grounds, and do not take into account information about a convicted prisoner’s personality, his or her willingness to cooperate with the administration of the penal institution, the level of danger s/he poses to other prisoners and staff, etc. Attention is given to the circumstances of the criminal case which extenuate or aggravate guilt (once again exclusively basing this on the presence in the sentence of this or that Article of the Criminal Code).  These commissions thus carry out the role of quasi-judicial bodies and effectively assume for themselves the functions of the justice system. The lack of publication of normative acts on determining the type of penal colony as well as in cases where a person is transferred from one colony to another, and also the taking of such decisions in the absence of the prisoners themselves, create additional problems with regard to observance of human rights.

This situation is exacerbated by the complicated procedure for appealing against the decisions of Regional Commissions, as well as of the Appeal Commissions which have the right to review their decisions. This procedure runs counter to current legislation since it does not envisage the possibility of an applicant’s appeal to the courts, changing this to the possibility of making appeals solely to officials of the system. It should be pointed out that it is such shortcomings in the work of the commissions which existed up to 1960 which were the reason for their abolition and transfer of their authority to designate the form of penal regime to the courts.

Public control over observance of prisoners’ rights may only be carried out by supervisory commissions which are created by local authorities. They work according to “Regulations on supervisory commissions”[12] (hereafter the Regulations).  Some studies carried out by civic organizations in different regions of Ukraine have shown that in the majority of cases supervisory commissions function in a purely formal manner. The duties are carried out by their members, who are, as a rule, employees of State bodies, as an “unpaid public load”, without the necessary motivation or will to take part in the given work.  Norms of the Regulations clearly need to be improved.

  Donetsk Memorial initiated the preparation of a new version of the Regulations on Supervisory Commissions, involving leading specialists in the task. These draft Regulations are presently with the Ministry of Justice for consideration. They envisage a stronger role for the supervisory commissions in carrying out public control and more clearly define their functions, tasks, powers, as well as the procedure for their formation and cooperation with the authorities. Progress with this updated version of the Regulations is being hampered by difficulties in resolving the issue of partial financing of its activities.

  The main form of participation of the public in the reform and re-socialization of juvenile prisoners is work on the boards of trustees. These are created for each juvenile educational colony and work in accordance with the “Regulations on boards of trustees attached to special penal educational institutions”. It is impossible to give an objective assessment of the work of boards of trustees due to the lack of studies regarding their work. At the same time, individual surveys of prisoners carried out by civic organizations suggest that in most cases these structures serve a merely formal function.


Control over the activities of the Department

As always noted, public monitoring of the activities of the Department is virtually impossible since the public do not have permitted mechanisms for this.

During 2007 the Department was checked by State institutions which identified certain infringements.

Over the last three years penal institutions and SIZO [pre-trial detention centres] have been checked by prosecutor’s offices, representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsperson, the Head of the Control and Audit Department and other controlling bodies 8, 604 times, including 3, 081 times in 2007.  On average each institution was checked 16 times a year, for a period of 27 days. The most checks by various State bodies in 2007 were carried out in the following regions:  Sumy (on average 49 checks of one institution per year); Dnipropetrovsk (37); Rivne (34); Odessa (25); Mykolaiv (22); Khmelnytsky (21); Kherson (20) and Kharkiv and Donetsk (18 each).

Investigation into State-funded purchases made by the Department or its subordinate corrective institutions which the Ukrainian Tender Committee carried out identified flagrant infringements of current legislation amounting to 217, 98 million UAH.

The prosecutor’s office also carried out legally envisaged control. It should be noted that checks by the prosecutor’s office often end with assertions that no infringements were found. This reaction is particularly common where complaints from prisoners are concerned. While in a certain number of cases this may well be the case, however the prosecutor’s office draws the same conclusions in situations where there are fairly serious grounds for believing that human rights infringements did take place.  On the other hand, checks by the prosecutor’s office do sometimes identify infringements by the Department. There is reason to believe that in some cases close attention from human rights groups and the public is a contributory factor.

For example, according to the results of a check by the Prosecutor General’s Office, initiated by a civic human rights organization, the instruction restricting visits to penal institutions by civic organizations and journalists was pronounced unlawful and revoked.

According to Cabinet of Ministers Instruction № 38745/4/1-07 from 11 September 2007, an inter-departmental commission of the Cabinet of Ministers checked the work of the Department.  Numerous infringements were identified, and soon the Department issued a “Report on the elimination of shortcomings in the work of the State Department of Ukraine for the Execution of Sentences, set out in an act following the results of a check carried out by an inter-departmental government commission from 17-28 September (hereafter the Report). This provides either explanations or denials of the infringements identified.

The check found that “during the first six months of 2007 264 criminal investigations were launched in the Department’s penal colonies against 218 during the same period the previous year, or 21% more. The level of crime calculated per thousand prisoners had accordingly risen by 29.8% and came to 2.17 (against 1.67 in the first half of 2006). The Department did not dispute these figures.

Corruption is widespread among Department staff. In the first six months of 2007 20 corrupt dealings by employees of the Department were identified and stopped by special units of the SBU [Security Service] alone.  In all, 33 employees of the State Penal Service faced criminal charges in the courts over corruption in 2007.  Corruption was typical of a wide spectrum of officials from the Department, from junior inspector to the head of a penal colony and deputy head of a department. This data was also not denied.

A representative of the civic organizations Donetsk Memorial and the Ukrainian Penitentiary Society was included on the inter-departmental commission. In his conclusions, he states: “Representatives of the Department did not provide any information during the check about cooperation with civic organizations which raise the subject of human rights observance in the system, report likely human rights violations, make critical comments and assessments of the Department’s work and stress existing problems. The Department effectively avoids cooperation with human rights organizations which are critical in their assessment of its activities with regard to observance of f human rights and avoids carrying out independent studies into the problems of the system.

The Department disputes some of these conclusions in its Report: “From 2005-2007 there were no complaints from civic organizations about obstructions to their carrying out their activities as per their articles of association regarding participation in the process of reform and resocialization of prisoners”.

This denial is yet another example of how the Department issues incorrect information since during that period it received complaints from Donetsk Memorial over the adoption of the relevant instruction, and there were also complaints regarding obstruction of the work of civic organizations by the management of the Volyn Regional Division of the Department.

The Government commission concluded that there was a need “to consider the issue of applying measures of disciplinary influence, and perhaps consider the proposal to dismiss the Head of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences V.V. Koshchynets.”

  This conclusion coincides with the proposal of leading human rights organizations made public at a press conference on 22 February 2008 in Kyiv, in an Open Letter to the President, Prime Minister and Speak of the Verkhovna Rada regarding numerous significant infringements in the Department’s work.[13]


Remand and convicted prisoners in Department institutions

In the system’s institutions as of 1 January 2008 149 690 people were held (against 160, 725 on 01.01.2007), including 32 110 (against 32 619)  in 33 SIZO [pre-trial detention centres] and 115, 393  (against 125.6 thousand) convicted prisoners in 138 penal institutions. Of these, 6, 882 are women (against 7.6 thousand), while 1, 902 minors (against 2.2 thousand) are held in 10 educational colonies for juvenile offenders and 285 people (the same number a year earlier) were in treatment and labour prophylactic units.


The number of people serving sentences on 1 January 2008[14]

Table 2


Type of penal institution

No. of institutions

Number of places

In fact holding


+/- to the place

Increase (drop) in numbers



For a month

Since the beginning of the year


Penal institutions: total







In corrective centres (CC)







Educational colonies (EC)

















149 405

8 426

- 1 257

- 11034

Temporary holding facilities





- 3


Total for Ukraine








5, 000 people are being held in 20 corrective centres who have received restriction of liberty sentences. There are also 285 serving custodial arrest sentences in arrest facilities, usually attached to some SIZO. In the middle of 2007 there were 1463 life prisoners, including 14 women. For every 100 thousand head of population, around 340 people are imprisoned, as opposed to 400 several years ago. For comparison, in the USA this figure is over 700, and in Russia it recently reached almost 650.

  An analysis of figures on mortality and illness in penal institutions shows (cf. Table 3) that in 2007 the number of people who died in penal institutions and number of those with an active form of tuberculosis fell in 2007, while the number of people committing suicide and people with HIV rose. Bearing in mind that the overall number of people in places of confinement fell by 7%, then in ratio to one thousand people the number of people dying rose by 5.6%.. The number of cases of suicide per thousand head of possible rose by 33%, and the number of people infected with HIV by 15%

Against the critical comments in the Report of the Inter-departmental Commission regarding illness and the death rate in penal institutions, the Department’s Report provides optimistic information that “it has been possible to reduce the number of deaths in Department institutions over the last 5 years by almost 25% (2003 – 957; 2006 – 716)”.

The Department is yet again manipulating statistics. The number of prisoners since 2003 has fallen considerably and it would be correct to calculate the death rate per thousand prisoners. In 2003, bearing in mind the numbers then, the death rate was 4.84 and in 2006 – 4.61, i.e. the reduction is by a mere 4.75%, and not 25% as they claim. And according to data, in 2007 it actually exceeded the level of 2003 by half a percentage.

In response to the request to provide their method for calculating the figures of mortality and illness, the Department effectively refused, not indicating the essence of the method, this only strengthening doubts about the accuracy of the information which it publishes.


Table 3

Illness and deaths in the Department’s institutions [15]








The number of people in penal institutions

191 677

188 465

170 923

160 725

149 690







Per thousand prisoners

4, 30

4, 29

5, 08

4, 61

4, 87 / + 5, 6%

Cases of suicide






Per thousand prisoners

0, 21

0, 23

0, 23

0, 27

0, 36 / +33%

Suffering from an active form of tuberculosis

9 080

10 198

9 020

Близько 7, 6 тис.

6 195

Per thousand prisoners

47, 37

54, 1

52, 77

47, 28

41, 4 / - 12%


1 917

3 568

4 058

4 695

5 017

Per thousand prisoners

10, 0

18, 93

23, 7

29, 2

33, 5 / + 15%


Based on figures posted on the Department’s official website, the main indicators for people serving terms of imprisonment in 2007: ability to work; crimes; social background, as well as other characteristics are given in Table 4. It should be noted that the last column of the table giving information about people without citizenship in Department statistics for 2007 has for some reason disappeared.


Table 4

Main indicators of people serving sentences in the form of deprivation of liberty in 2007[16]





Including institutions holding women

The number of penal institutions




The number of listed prisoners as of 01.01.2007.


7 597


The total number of prisoners arriving during 2007


4 778



those previously imprisoned


2 768


those with previous convictions

23 578





2 010


Total number who left institutions during 2007


5 493







Total number released

49 120

3 215


Of whom

Completed their sentence

13 411



Early conditional release, change of punishment

30 583







People suffering a serious illness




On amnesty

1 667



On other grounds

2 403



Total sent away

53 271

2 278



Moved from a maximum to medium security institution




Moved from a medium to a maximum security institution








Number on the list at the end of the reporting period

116 169

6 882


Of the total number of people convicted

Convicted of

Crimes against national security





19 678

1 340


Deliberately causing serious bodily injuries

12 324




2 711



Robbery with violence

14 738




15 043




30 471

1 363


Appropriating, squandering or seizing property through abuse of official position





2 463



Military crimes





For the first time

58 406

4 396


More than once

57 763

2 486


Work status


112 3364

6 539


3rd group disability status

2 888



1st and 2nd group disability status




social group

Manual workers

20 954



Office workers

3 181



Agricultural workers

9 038



Military servicemen





3 303



Able-bodied people neither working nor studying

74 461

3 676



5 123

1 612


Convicted prisoners whose death sentence was commuted to imprisonment




Convicted prisoners ordered by the court to undergo compulsory treatment (Article.96 of the Criminal Code)

3 641





2 293



Drug addicts

1 348



Foreign nationals

2 454




More distant countries




CIS area

2 382



Stateless persons (figures for 2006)





Access to the court and the right to appeal against the actions of penal administrations

At the present time there is no real effective mechanism for safeguarding the rights of prisoners to turn to the court to protect their violated rights and legitimate interests. This is reflected in the fact that neither penal, nor procedural, legislation contain special norms which, taking into account the specific legal and actual position of people sentenced to imprisonment, establish procedure for applications to the court and examination by the court of complaints from prisoners over the decisions, actions or inaction of those in authority.

The Penal Code does not directly contain clear and detailed procedure for applications and examination of complaints from prisoners, and it also fails to set out guarantees for safeguarding the principle of “equality of arms”.

We would add that the departmental procedure of complaining against the behaviour of the administration is absolutely ineffective since the Department does not even have an independent system for investigating such complaints.

The declarative nature of the right of prisoners to approach the court is reflected in the fact that according to Article 113 § 3 of the Penal Code, correspondence which prisoners receive or send to the courts is subject to scrutiny by the penal administration. Yet this is, at very least, illogical since the conditions are created in which an appeal to the prosecutor’s office is not subject to scrutiny, while an appeal to the court (a part of the justice system!) is.

Thus, such correspondence can be censored by the administration, and the prisoners themselves placed under pressure to decide against seeking protection of their rights from the court. The range of methods of pressure is broad, from persuasion and intimidation to beating, the use of disciplinary penalties and initiating of new criminal investigations.

The fact that the legislators and Department “forgot” to regulate this issue demonstrates, in our view, that the government do not take seriously the need to ensure that prisoners can exercise their right to turn to the court and do not in practice expect such appeals. Clearly this attitude is explained by many years experience in the past which has formulated the according mentality both in the people serving their sentences, and among penal staff. This mentality does not include the courts in the range of bodies which can reinstate the violated rights and legitimate interests of prisoners.

It should also be noted that penal legislation does not bind the administration of penal institutions to inform prisoners of the possibility of appealing against their decisions, actions or inaction in the courts, or to explain the procedure for such complaints or at least provide the relevant normative base, give the address and other necessary details of the courts etc.

According to Item 36.3 of the “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners”, “Every prisoner shall be allowed to make a request or complaint, without censorship as to substance but in proper form, to the central prison administration, the judicial authority or other proper authorities through approved channels.”

  In accordance with Principle 33 of the “Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment”, a detained or imprisoned person or his counsel must be able to approach the court with regard to treatment by penal administration staff.

  In light of this, one can conclude that the present state of legislation regulating the right of convicted prisoners to approach the court fails to fully comply not only with Ukraine’s Constitution, but with norms of international law which Ukraine has committed itself to observe.

The facts and examples in this section demonstrate that the existing mechanisms for submitting complaints are not working, the personnel of the penal institutions find various ways to ensure that the prisoners do not have the real possibility to defend their rights. One of the results of such unacceptable practice is a considerable increase in the number of incidents in penal institutions, hunger strikes or cases of self-mutilation as attempts to draw public attention to violations of their rights and the lack of possibility to submit complaints to independent institutions.


Access to information

The main statistical information about the penal system is posted on the official website . However certain pages on the site are not often updated. For example, in October 2007 the latest figures on the number of prisoners in penal institutions were from 1 November 2006.

The degree to which the Department complies with written requests for information has somewhat improved, and in many cases the information is provided. At the same time, there are still refusals to provide information, especially from some territorial divisions of the Department.  

Refusals to give information are usually in cases where the information sought pertains to human rights observance. Donetsk Memorial has approached the management several times over numerous infringements of the demands of legislation on information, however has received no response. Only after the organization turned to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry’s letter addressed to the Head of the Department, did the latter issue Instruction № 1/1 -1198/Кn, dated 23 March 2007, this ordering territorial bodies of the Department to:

“ensure unfailing adherence to the demands of legislation on information when informing the public and civic organizations about the work of penal structures and institutions, including when providing information in response to information requests.

take measures to properly process applications and information requests and provide well-founded responses within the legally-established periods.”

However after this some heads of territorial divisions saw fit to not provide information and there remained no real reaction from the Department to these infringements.

In order to receive information from territorial divisions refusing to provide it, a Donetsk Memorial representative approached the court. The courts found the failure to provide information requested by the heads of the Department’s divisions in the Sumy, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Kyiv and Vinnytsa regions unlawful and they were ordered to provide the information.

Yet even after this the Head of the Chernihiv Division V.I. Lopatin did not comply with the court ruling and did not provide the information. It was only after turning to the prosecutor’s office and the threat of initiating a criminal investigation over the failure to obey a court ruling that the Chernihiv Division in January 2008 provided the information requested initially back in July 2006.

  It has become more common for the Head of the Department Vasyl Koshchynets to not provide information. At the end of 2007 a law suit was lodged over his refusal to provide information regarding the transferral of prisoners from the Izyaslav Colony No. 31 after the events in January 2007.  There are serious grounds for doubting that this move took place without large-scale and serious human rights violations.  Yet the Department has refused to provide information which could shed light on whether legal requirements were observed regarding the formal processing and implementation of the transfer.

There have been cases where the management of the Volyn Regional Division of the Department refused to provide information. Despite an order from the prosecutor’s office the management failed to provide the information.

There remain problems in carrying out various types of studies. In the absence of a specialized scientific research structure within the Department carrying out studies into various aspects of the system’s work, the initiatives of civic organizations and some researchers are of particular importance.

In 2006 after more than six months of letter-writing, Donetsk Memorial was refused permission to conduct a study. In 2007 at the request of the Ukrainian Penitentiary Society for permission to carry out a study in one of the penal colonies in the Chernihiv region, the head of one of the Department’s divisions S.Skokov responded that a study was already underway in that colony and that the Department was “ready to consider the methods for the scientific research and scholarly work of V. Badyra at a meeting of the scientific and methodological Department Council.”  This tactic for numerous cases of agreeing things and artificial obstructions are used by the Department to effectively turn such proposals down.

  Virtually no monitoring is carried out. The monitoring by the Ukrainian-American Human Rights Bureau in 2006 was maybe the only such study permitted by the Department over the last six years. The efficiency of this monitoring is difficult to assess since after it was carried out, not one of the Department’s reports has mentioned what measures were taken as a result of the monitoring and whether the work of the Department has changed as a consequence.

  A broad study of various aspects of the work of institutions was carried out by the Department itself in 2006. 87 thousand convicted and remand prisoners were involved, as well as over 15 thousand members of staff of the penal institutions. However no results of the study are available and it is used solely by the Department itself. In response to a request to provide at least the main results of this study, the head of one of the Department’s divisions S.Skokov sent conclusions along the lines of “For some regions dissatisfaction by prisoners with the level of medical service was typical. The highest levels of dissatisfaction with this aspect were in the Kirovohrad, Rivne, Odessa and Cherkasy regions. A proper level of organization of leisure was noted in the Luhansk, Poltava and Mykolaiv regions”.

The lack of serious and systematic study makes it impossible to make a sufficiently objective assessment of the real state of the system and whether human rights are observed in penal institutions. Instances where the Department has reported inaccurate information only strengthen doubts as to the trustworthiness of the data it provides.

The formal and meaningless nature of the Department’s answers was also demonstrated with Donetsk Memorial’s attempt to find out how the mortality figures which the Department provides are calculated. The Head of a Department Division S.B. Zhivago informed that “In calculating figures for mortality, the number of people suffering from tuberculosis, methods recommended by the Department of Social Hygiene of medical universities which are taught to students”.

  The lack of reliable information and independent studies effectively promotes concealment of the real human rights situation in penal institutions and the Department’s use of general ignorance about the real situation to manipulate public opinion.


Reports of violations of prisoners’ rights

In 2007 numerous incidents in penal institutions were reported. As a rule information was received via informal channels.

In spite of declarations about the system’s openness, the Department’s management assiduously conceals the circumstances and causes of many events, often denies things that it is then soon forced to admit. Careful analysis of the information received from various sources identifies far from isolated cases where incorrect information was issued. .

Below we give a number of reports about incidents which make it possible to gain some idea about the nature of such incidents and about the context of the reports of them.

Among the most prominent events were the disturbances in the Izyaslav Colony No. 31 in the Khmelnytsky region.

On 14 January 2007, virtually all prisoners at the Izyaslav Penal Colony No 31 (more than 1, 200 men) declared a hunger strike. They were protesting against alleged arbitrary punishments, beatings and degrading treatment by staff, as well as the bad quality of food and medical care. One of the prisoners’ demands was the removal of the head of the colony, his deputy and another member of management. On the same day a commission from the Department arrived at the colony, and by evening the hunger strike had been abandoned.

Then on 22 January a special unit was brought into the colony, with men in masks and military gear. Human rights organizations report that they brutally beat around 40 prisoners who had been specially brought to the headquarters for this – those who had told the commission about the prisoners’ demands. By the time the beating was over, the prisoners had broken ribs, bones, noses, other bodily injuries, teeth knocked out, etc.  Immediately following this they were divided into two groups and taken to the Rivne and Khmelnytsky SIZO, literally in the clothes they had on, with all their things left in the penal colony. In the SIZO they were again brutally beaten. They were later taken to other penal colonies to continue serving their sentences.

A detailed investigation into the situation was carried out by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group.  It prepared its own analysis of the events in which it states the following:[17]

« (Reporting the prisoners’ accounts):  Then Andriy Bozhko became Acting Head. That was when the beatings, insults and unwarranted punishments started. In the eighth unit barrack for 160 prisoners there were two wash basins in working order, and at dinner there was nowhere to wash your hands. The shop has food items beyond their sell-by date. There were even glass jars with preserves from 1979. The medical unit has out-of-date medicine and medical care was not given promptly. The prisoners remembered one prisoner who lost his eyesight because he got some metal shavings in one eye which got infected. The Inflammation spread to the other eye and they didn’t treat it in time. Another prisoner got frostbite and ended up with both feet amputated because he didn’t get medical help quickly enough. It is difficult to verify these stories since the people themselves were then moved to other institutions.

The prisoners assert that they tried to send complaints to the Khmelnytsky Regional Division of the Department for the Execution of Sentences, to the Department in Kyiv, to prosecutor’s offices at different levels and other authorities, but that their complaints never left the colony.

The Department explains the events at No. 31 from 14 – 21 January differently. They say that the young head of the institution Andriy Bozkho was unable to cope with the problems of the colony, and “the informal management of the colony” got out of hand and wanted to determine themselves who would manage the institution and what the rules of behaviour would be. They therefore organized the protest action. Supposedly it was no hunger strike since none of the prisoners wrote a personal statement refusing to eat.  Such behaviour was a threat to order in the colony and the organizers of the action needed to be punished”

  However one of the prisoners asserts:[18] “The search was carried out with beating. After that they put handcuffs on behind our backs and dragged us passed the row of men with batons. I again lost consciousness. I came to in the van. There were already about 20 prisoners there. They were all beaten, covered in blood, a lot without shoes and not dressed.  We were thrown out of the car and pushed past the row (the same people beat us with the same batons). Then they shoved us into a van and took us to the Khmelnytsky SIZO. We were pushed down a row several times, getting brutally beaten with batons and then thrown into a transit cell. For a week they took us out individually 3-4 times a day to a SIZO office where the swift response unit brutally beat us. They put wet towels onto our faces so that we couldn’t breathe; they beat us with batons on the heels, palms, buttocks, back, legs and head. I fainted from the beating. They used physical and moral pressure to get me to make a statement that I had no grievances against the administration of Colony No. 31 or the Khmelnytsky Division of the Department, that nobody had used physical means to influence me”.

Department personnel deny assertions about the hunger strike and beating and say that the 40 prisoners were moved to other colonies since No. 31 was overcrowded. Complaints from prisoners and their families to the prosecutor’s office and other authorities have elicited responses that the actions of the Department personnel were lawful.

Yet at the beginning the Department gave the following information in response to information requests from civic organizations: “during a general search, special devices and measures of physical influence were not applied.” At the same time, replying to an information request from Donetsk Memorial, the Prosecutor General’s Office stated that “in carrying out a search, in accordance with Article 106 of the Penal Code, measures of physical influence and special devices (batons, handcuffs) were applied against 8 prisoners who demonstrated physical resistance.” Later the Department also acknowledged this fact and later informed that as a result of their check into the events at the Izyaslav Colony the following measures had been taken: “By Order No. 24 of the Acting Head of Izyaslav Penal Colony No 31 from 22 January 2007, as well as Order No. 4 to the Heads of the Regional Division of the Department from 24 January 2007, 24 officials faced disciplinary charges. Of these 2 were issued a warning of non-full professional suitability; 2 received strict reprimands; 13 received reprimands. With respect of two employees a decision was taken to limit previously imposed penalties, while two employees did not have disciplinary proceedings brought against them since they had not occupied their positions long “ Yet it remains unclear what exactly they were punished for. Were they punished for unlawful use of force?

  Despite Donetsk Memorial’s insistence, the Department refused to provide copies of the protocol of the Appeal Commission which should outline all the reasons for the transfer of the 40 prisoners to other penal colonies. At present a civil suit is continuing against the Head of the Department over the failure to provide information.

A special unit was also deployed at the Buchansk Penal Colony No. 85 (Kyiv region).

  “According to information received from various sources, each of which is highly trustworthy, on 7 June 2007 close to evening, a special unit of men in mask-helmets and the appropriate military gear was deployed in the heightened security zone of Buchansk Penal Colony No. 85.  During the day from early morning several dozen prisoners for various formal reasons were placed as a disciplinary penalty in cell-type premises. Some of these prisoners had been reckless enough to officially complain about the conditions they were being held in and violations of their rights.  Approximately between 18.00 and 20.00 on 7 June the special unit officers, mainly in cell No. 4, carried out such intensive educational measures that many of the prisoners on the territory of the colony could hear and understand perfect what was happening to their mates. At around 20.00 that same day, approximately 20 prisoners arrived at the colony’s medical unit with serious bodily injuries. Some were brought on stretchers since they couldn’t walk by themselves. According to a source, some of the prisoners, unable to endure the beating and humiliation, attempted to slash themselves in various ways. “[19]

  However human rights defenders stated that after the incident became known, the colony management did everything to intimidate or persuade the prisoners to keep silent. The most active and worst beaten were transferred to other colonies, and those who remained were promised less severe conditions, and all were trapped since they were told that if even one of them said anything, all of them would get it.

After this some journalists and members of the public were allowed into the colony, and of course all the prisoners were silent and no violations were identified.[20]

In response to an information request from KHPG, the Prosecutor General’s Office answered that “a special purpose unit was brought into Buchansk Penal Colony No. 85 in the Kyiv region. During the search a considerable number of prohibited items were found and removed. No physical force or special means were applied. On the basis of the check, the actions of the special purpose unit and of personnel of Buchansk Penal Colony No. 85 in bringing in the unit and the carrying out of the search are declared to comply with current legislation.”

  The Prosecutor General’s Office thus acknowledged that a special unit had been deployed in the Buchansk Colony but did not wish to investigate the mass beating.[21]

Cases of ill-treatment in the Vinnytsa Penal Colony No. 1 should be pointed out. At a press conference in Kyiv on 25 June to mark International Day against Torture, the mothers of two prisoners Serhiy B. and Oleksy P., serving sentences in Colony No. 1, spoke of brutal beatings their sons had been subjected to in March – April 2007. Serhiy was beaten for not being ready for work on time, while Oleksy fell into disfavour because of a complaint which his mother wrote to a higher authority calling for an end to the ill-treatment of the prisoners.

Ti check the information given in the complaints from Serhiy and Oleksy’s parents, then National Deputy  and President of the International Women’s Human Rights Centre “La Strada – Ukraine”, Kateryna Levchenko visited Colony No. 1 at the end of April. At the same time, Department representative General Mykola Iltyai arrived at the colony.

Kateryna Levchenko told the press conference:  “During a meeting with Serhiy B. and Oleksy P, we saw bruises from the waist to the knees. And although the information given in the complaints was confirmed, I received a reply from the Department management claiming that all was fine and that nothing of the sort had taken place, and General Iltyai is denying what he himself saw.”

However information alleging the brutal beating of another prisoner R. did not receive substantiation. A number of deaths in the Kyiv SIZO in 2007 (more than 20 as of the beginning of 2007) attracted media attention to the conditions in the SIZO and the causes of these deaths. The Human Rights Ombudsperson also took this on. As her press service reported, together with a group of specialists from her Secretariat and representatives of the media, she carried out another check of the Kyiv SIZO on 27 July 2007.  The monitoring of the rights of remand prisoners was carried out as a “visit without warning.” All blocks where minors, women, remand prisoners, as well life prisoners. A thorough study was made of the conditions, material and everyday supplies, the provision of medical care, the situation with aw and order in the institution, the treatment of inmates, etc.

The Ombudsperson stated that since her last check there had been some positive changes. For example, in the majority of cells the sanitary conditions had improved, the toilets were partitioned off, it had become cleaner and tidier, and there were radio points everywhere. With the help of inmates’ relatives, televisions had been installed where possible; there were no problems or restrictions with receiving parcels and visits. Overall, she said, the SIZO was becoming more open for society, the media and representatives of religious organizations.

  At the same time, she stressed a number a infringements of the rights of remand prisoners at the SIZO who with justification complain of degrading treatment because of unsuitable conditions. This is first and foremost connected with the crowded conditions. More than 200 people are not provided with the legally established amount of living space per person. Some cells hold as many as 40 people and in certain cells instead of the legally stipulated 2.5 spare metres per prisoner, there is less than one square metre of living space. It is extremely difficult for prisoners to endure the intolerable heat in the old “Katerynsky” block. There remains a burning problem with the spread of tuberculosis among prisoners, personnel and even lawyers and criminal investigators. At present these figures in the Kyiv and other SIZO are double those in penal colonies. Unfortunately, as previously, in the capital’s SIZO they admit people with active forms of tuberculosis, while they cannot receive full treatment there.

  The Ombudsperson is convinced that one of the reasons and conditions for the lack of compliance of the real state of affairs in SIZO with international standards is linked with difficulties in selecting and training penal staff, their legal and social protection and the low level of prestige of this job among the public. For these reasons the SIZO has an almost 20% shortfall in staff.  The salary in the Kyiv (Lukyanivsk) SIZO for the junior and middle management staff comes to only 700 UAH per month (around 140 USD – translator).

These and other shortcomings are leading also to problems with the operational situation in the SIZO, tension among prisoners resulting in the incidents in July 2007 (two killings of prisoners by their cellmates)[22]

According to the results of checks carried out by the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Kyiv Prosecutor in 2007 over two killings and other deaths in the Kyiv SIZO in the second half of the year, 5 documents of prosecutor’s response were issued. 23 officials had disciplinary proceedings brought against them, with two of the officials being dismissed. The Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office initiated a criminal investigation against the Deputy Assistant Head of the SIZO and this was sent to the Shevchenkivsky District Court in Kyiv.

There was a prominent case involving a special unit in the Slovyanoserbska Colony No. 60 in the Luhansk region.

In this colony where 75 prisoners are serving life sentences, on 10 November three life prisoners at around 4.30 in the morning attempt a break-out, injuring the officer on duty. The head of the Luhansk Regional Division of the Department arrived on the scene soon after, as well as the Deputy Prosecutor and the head of the civic organization “Cascade” which deals with problems faced by prisoners and those released.  It was the head of “Cascade” whom one of the escapees informed of his conditions that journalists from leading television channels be called. However for some reason he did not wait for their arrival and set off one of the grenades which injured a spetsnaz (Special Forces) officer (by that stage a spetsnaz unit had arrived at the colony). Arms were used against the escapees and one was fatally wounded.

  A press release was posted on the official website of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences which gave some details about the escape attempt and about the person killed. However there was not one word about the deployment of a spetsnaz unit.

  During the press conference in Luhansk on 14 November, the First Deputy to the Head of the Department General Iltyai also denied the information suggesting that force had been used against prisoners of the colony. He said that the prisoners had written statements to the Prosecutor’s investigation unit saying that nobody had beaten them.[23]

  Donetsk Memorial soon afterwards asked the head of “Cascade” to provide information about the events, but to no avail.

  On 13 November the Prosecutor General declared the actions of officers of an interregional special purpose division in the Luhansk region in freeing hostages to have been lawful, thus confirming that a spetsnaz unit had been deployed.  According to the Prosecutor General’s conclusions, no confirmation was found for the reports of beatings of prisoners by spetsnaz officers and cases of self-inflicted injuries by prisoners being held in the life sentence sector and in prison-type cells. The Prosecutor General’s Press Service stated that “questioning of prisoners and a check carried out by staff of the regional forensic medical office had not found any injuries. Between 10 and 12 November there were no reports from prisoners claiming that measures to exert physical or psychological influence had been applied. Only two individuals were found to have scratches on their body which they explained they had caused themselves accidentally.”

The KHPG statement on 15 November reads that “on 10 November, after an attempted escape by prisoners in Penal Colony No. 60  (Luhansk) resulted in one death, a spetsnaz unit was brought in. It is reported that they began beating prisoners en masse. In protest at this violence, 30 prisoners resorted to self-injury.  Given the lack of communication from the State Department for the Execution of Sentences we are unable to verify this information.”

  Human rights organizations also received unconfirmed reports that there were photographs of the beating, but that negotiations are continuing between the prisoners and administration and the prisoners are not in a hurry to either hand over the photographs or give the names of the prisoners who suffered the beatings.

  How reliable information from the Department is can be judged by the fact that in response to an information request from Donetsk Memorial, General Iltyai asserted that “to prevent crimes of a terrorist nature the Special Forces unit was deployed on 10 November 2007 in the Slovyanoserbska Colony No. 60 in the Luhansk region.”

  Yet following an information request to the Luhansk Regional Department of the SBU [Security Service], Donetsk Memorial received response № 63/5-2/51 dated 7 February 2008 which states that: “due to the lack of conditions for conducting an anti-terrorist operation, a decision to carry one out on 10 November 2007 in Slovyanoserbska Colony No. 60 was not taken and no anti-terrorist operation was conducted.”

  We would stress that three months later, in February 2008 in the newspaper “Ukraina moloda”, the Head of the Department V. Koshchynets asserted: “Thank God there has not been one case during my time when it (the Special Forces unit) was used against prisoners.[24]  This yet again places the statements of the Department in doubt.

Often reports of ill-treatment are of a contradictory nature.

For example, “On 3 December an unknown prisoner arrived at the Kharkiv SIZO No. 27, brought from Penal Colony No. 85. Witnesses claim that he was in a terrible physical state on his arrival with all his body showing the marks of brutal beating. Having been placed in a normal cell for convoyed prisoners, and having received another refusal to provide him with medical care, the unknown prisoner who had not even managed to tell anybody his name suddenly slashed an artery and died soon after.

The Head of the Kharkiv Division of the Department Oleksandr Kipim confirmed the death of the man brought from Colony No. 85 and even gave his name. However the Head of the SIZO in a special communiqué in his own name reported: “On 3 December Yury F, born in 1961, was brought to Kharkiv SIZO from Buchansk Penal Colony No. 85 in order to be sent on to a place of treatment for tuberculosis. While in the admission section he did not make any complaints regarding his state of health. At 18.33 hours, while in the corridor of the admission section for being taken to the medical unit cell, his health suddenly deteriorated, blood began flowing from his mouth and nose, and an emergency signal was given and resuscitation measures were applied which were not successful. At 18.36 the doctors from the medical unit declared him clinically dead – he had stopped breathing, his heart had stopped beating, there was no pulse and he had lost approximately 2-3 litres of blood.  The preliminary assessment as to the cause of death – a profuse lung haemorrhage”. We would nevertheless place in well-founded question the answer from the Department’s official spokesperson and are not at all able to exclude the possibility that the death of the prisoner was due to his having been driven to suicide due to the ill-treatment he suffered and systematic degradation (Article 120 of the Criminal Code). Not, that is, as the result of an advanced form of tuberculosis but as the result of criminally liable suicide which they are trying in such a way to conceal from us.

  A report on the “Maidan” website points out that this is not the first case in recent times of a “natural” death of a person transferred from Buchansk Penal Colony No. 85.»[25]

On 17 Decembers 2007 human rights defenders reported that a group of prisoners (around 200) held in the so-called “Monastery” of Izyaslav Penal Colony No. 58 had gone on hunger strike. 

“The reasons given are that, according to the prisoners, the cells in “Monastery” are damp and cold, with water running down the walls; there is no ventilation ; the cells are not probably heated or insulated; there are single panes in the windows, with cracks in some of them; water is provided only three times a day for 40-50 minutes; there are rats; the quarantine unit is in premises with virtually no heating (it was used by the monastery to store bodies before burial), with the temperature almost the same as that on the street.  Prisoners are held there for 14 days, those with tuberculosis together with the other prisoners.  There is no medical treatment or medicine, and prisoners who have tuberculosis or are HIV-positive do not even receive vitamins, let alone specialized treatment. Nor are they allowed the requisite extra hour’s walk per day.  The prison shop sells food 1.5-2 times higher than market prices although quite often the products are off.

Prisoners also complain that the administration personnel are arbitrary in their handing out of administrative penalties and that there is no possibility of sending complaints outside the colony. Any attempt to express disgruntlement with unlawful actions of the administration or the bad conditions and lack of medical care leads to disciplinary penalties on any pretext and on the basis of falsified material. They also allege that the administration does not pay them for the work they do and they are made to do physically gruelling work supposedly “for the improvement of the colony”, this meaning as a rule, having to drag 30-kilogram loads of fuel for the boiler.

They claim that over the last four years, not one of them has been moved to a more lenient regime.

They plan to continue their hunger strike until they receive civilized conditions and until the other problems are resolved.  They are aware that the State Department for the Execution of Sentences could apply their usual tactic and bring in a special purpose unit. They stress that their protest is peaceful and non-violent.[26]

There was reaction to the events in the penal colony in the outside world.

“On 20 December around 20 people, mainly parents of prisoners being held at the Izyaslav Penal Colony No. 58 held a protest outside the State Department for the Execution of Sentences. They came to defend their children and held banners reading “Prisoners are also people”. The parents handed the management of the Department complaints against the Izyaslav penal administration and the demand that they remove from his post the head of the establishment X. On 17 December prisoners held in Colony No. 58 declared an indefinite hunger strike in protest over the terrible conditions, about the arbitrary behaviour of the colony administration and ill-treatment[27]

  During the protest action the picketers were joined by the relatives of prisoners being held in other penal colonies. Among them was Andriy B. whose brother, he said, had been brutally beaten in No. 1 Penal Colony (Vinnytsa region), and then transferred to the Rivne region. Andriy came to the protest action to report a mass beating by men in masks of prisoners in Colony No. 96 (in the village of Horodyshche in the Rivne region) which had taken place on 18 December at 6 in the morning.

  Since nobody came out to speak to the picketers, it was unfortunately not possible to ascertain the circumstances in these colonies or at least receive some comment from the Department management.

   Another example of an event about which there is conflicting information was the incident at Donetsk Penal Colony No. 124.

The Internet publication “Ostriv” informed on 25 January 2008 that in an inter-regional hospital on the territory of Donetsk Penal Colony No. 124 where prisoners receive treatment, three prisoners had made a suicide attempt in protest against beatings by penal staff.

  Donetsk lawyer Serhiy Salov reported that the prisoners had handed him a statement alleging inhuman conditions in the colony, torture and beatings of prisoners, the lack of hygiene and normal medical services.

  The Donetsk Regional Division of the Department denied that there had been a group suicide attempt in Colony No. 124. According to the head of the Penal Unit’ department for social and educational work, Mykhailo Matanhin: “There was nothing of the sort. We don’t know who is circulating these rumours”

  However “Ostriv” soon afterwards reported that “In the ward the conditions are inhuman, with no walks, bedbugs, fleas, two-storey bunks. The food is poor and prepared for pigs and not for people, it’s simply impossible to get to visit a doctor. At the end of each statement there are threats to go on hunger strike or to attempt suicide.”[28]

  The Head of Donetsk Memorial visited the colony on 31 January and met with the staff and the prisoners who were said to have attempted suicide. The newspaper “Donbas” published his impression that while the injury inflicted was hardly that of a person calling it quits with life, it was exactly right for drawing attention. He said that the fact that the prisoner had not done this for the first time showed that he knew very well what he was doing. [29]

On the other hand, the actions of the management of the regional division of the Department hardly seem justified. Instead of providing comprehensive information about what was actually happening in the colony, they confined themselves to statements that reports of suicide were untrue.  Such excessively limited information without explanations or argumentation only heightens suspicions that something serious is afoot in the colony.

The check into the supposed suicide attempt in Colony No. 124 demonstrated that a fair number of complaints from prisoners which have gained publicity are not the consequence of deliberate ill-treatment by the staff, but the result of general problems. There are also a fair number of such problems outside the colony, for example, the need to buy certain medicine at your own expense. However some reports from prisoners about beatings needed thorough investigation and such a check was carried out by the local prosecutor’s office.

  This case and many other conflicting reports demonstrate the urgent need to introduce effective mechanisms or procedure for checking allegations of ill-treatment of prisoners with the participation of independent structures, for example, journalists and civic organizations. The lack of such proper checks leads to a situation where a certain percentage of such allegations are exaggerated and aimed in the first instance at drawing attention at any price. Unfortunately the management of the Department disregards any such proposals.

  There are on fairly rare occasions public accounts from prisoners themselves. At a press conference on 22 February 2008 one former prisoner who had been released a little less than a year shared his recollections. Pavlo Panych served a sentence from 2001 to 2007 in Penal Colony No. 25 in the Kharkiv region. In his words: “There isn’t anyone there who hasn’t been beaten? What were they beaten for? Ashamed to say, people worked in two shifts, you get up at six, lights out at 1 a.m., you don’t even have time to shave. And if a person says, I want to complain, you’re violating my rights, God forbid, that’s a death sentence”

  When it became impossible to endure it anymore, the prisoner secretly connected up to the administration’s telephone network and phoned his mother by the city line, asking that she wrote letters to Oleksandr Moroz and Yulia Tymoshenko calling on them to help. “I broke the law, but nobody noticed and there was no other way out. I couldn’t turn to them officially or incognito since I knew that that wouldn’t have any legal force.”

On 14 June 2004 a reply came from Yulia Tymoshenko, then four days the prisoner who’d dared to complain was put in the punishment isolation cell for 15 days. He claims that a week later they used “handcuffs”. “That’s when two officers have your hands in the handcuffs pressed to your back and then squeeze so that they cut into the flesh”. This happened three years ago, but the former musician says that he still doesn’t have feeling in his hands and can’t play a musical instrument.

During 2007 human rights organizations on dozens of occasion pointed out likely serious violations of human rights in penal institutions, holding press conferences, and publishing open letters to the leaders of the Department.

One of such occasions was at a press conference near the end of June on International Day against Torture. The human rights defenders stated that “Beatings and torture are everyday in Ukrainian prisons, and the public have little way of finding out what is happening.  Prisoners who have suffered torture or arbitrary brutality have difficulty proving what they went through since Ukraine lacks an independent system for investigating such crimes.”

Human rights defenders say that the Ukrainian penal system is extremely secret and victims of torture are intimidated. A delegation from the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture carried out a visit in 2005 and published its report in Strasbourg last week. They spoke of “asphyxiation using a gas mask and of being beaten while handcuffed, with hands and feet tied or maintained in a hyperextended position, or of a stick being inserted into the anus”. All of this the Council of Europe representatives named torture.[30]

The UN Committee against Torture in its Conclusions and Recommendations on its review of Ukraine’s Fifth Periodic Report stated that it “is concerned with the reported use of the anti-terrorist unit inside prisons acting with masks (e.g. in the Izyaslav Correctional Colony, in January 2007), resulting in the intimidation and ill-treatment of inmates” and directly stated that the “State party should also ensure that the anti-terrorist unit is not used inside prisons and hence to prevent mistreat and intimidation of inmates.”[31]

  However as information received demonstrates, the Department is continuing its practice of using spetsnaz [Special Forces] units to intimidate prisoners in violation of Ukraine’s international commitments. Human rights organizations consider that the Department uses these units for a number of purposes: actual and preventive punishment of those infringing prison regime, and even more so those seeking the truth and people who complain; a demonstration of their total impunity and of their ability to do what ever they please.

  It should be noted that the Ministry of Justice on 27 December 2007 cancelled the registration of Order No. 167 from 10 October 2005 in the Single Register of Normative-Legal Acts. This Order allowed for a special anti-terrorist unit within the Department used for carrying out searches of prisoners and penal institutions and pre-trial detention centres, and effectively for intimidating those deprived of their liberty

The cancellation of its registration meant that Order No. 167 ceased to be in force. However the special units have been deployed since then. Department employees claim that these are so called “combined” units formed where needed from operations and other staff of various penal institutions to maintain order in the institutions where conflict arises between prisoners and staff.  The type of behaviour of these units, judging by reports received at the end of 2007 and in the first months of 2008 does not different from that of the special anti-terrorist units.

According to Yevhen Zakharov (KHPG) “violence in penal colonies is mainly aimed at those who try to stand up for their rights and complain.  They get punished, put into punishment cells, on the most nonsensical pretext, like not making their bunk up properly, or not being dressed in uniform. They pile on a whole lot of such infringements and then increase the sentence for persistently failing to comply with orders under Article 391 of the Criminal Code.”

Yet the Department has not reacted at all to the proposal by the Head of Donetsk Memorial O. Bukalov to seek a joint algorithm for responding to reports of ill-treatment which could more swiftly distinguish real cases of torture and human rights violations from the simulations which do indeed occur. Such interaction and conscientious cooperation would considerably raise the level of trust in the Department. However as of the beginning of February 2008 there has been no positive reaction from the Department’s management.

Oleksandr Betsa, a specialist on penitentiary issues, is convinced that the fault is in a badly though-out staffing policy beginning with the appointment of the Head of the Department Vasyl Koshchynets down to total staffing rotations which have led to managerial positions, especially in the regions, being given very often to outsiders understanding little as regards the specific work of the department and coming from quite unrelated departments, police officers, the traffic police or Ministry for Emergencies. He says that for the first time since Independence there have been cases where penal employees – in the Lviv SIZO, the Irpin Penal Colony - have come out against the management. He points also to the huge divide between the pitiful salaries of those at the bottom, with the pay of management in the Department which can be more than thirty times higher.  Low pay often leads ordinary-level personnel to stoop to unlawful behaviour, this leading to rampant use of blackmail, selling of privileges, smuggling in of drugs and alcohol.  “The public cannot bring order into the system since these abuses are hidden in the name of the President and by the law”.[32]


The Department’s Cooperation with NGOs

Despite declarations about all-sided partnership with civic organizations, the management of the Department avoids working with leading human rights organizations. This position exacerbates the lack of openness to public scrutiny and makes it impossible to assess the real situation with human rights. it clearly also fosters mass infringements of prisoners’ rights.

They give various reasons for this position. Often they claim that human rights groups have nothing to do with investigations into exceptional incidents. The Deputy Head of the Department’s Kyiv and Kyiv Region Division, Oleksandr Pavlov maintains “They’re not authorized to carry out investigations. It’s the Prosecutor General, the SBU [Security Service] and Ministry of Internal Affairs. If any infringements have really occurred, this immediately becomes known to the public.”[33]. Or they accuse them of being in conspiracy with the criminal world without providing any evidence. For this they circulate rumours that in fact human rights defenders are lobbying the interests of bandits. “They’re paid by the criminal bosses. The present leadership of the Department is trying to build a system without corruption and they (the bandits – author) don’t like that”, one of the picketers outside the press conference held in the UNIAN agency on 22 February 2008 claimed.

The attempt to restrict public access to places of confinement was demonstrated by the Order of the Head of the Department № 3/4-2329 Kn from 30 May 2007 on single procedure for visiting penal institutions.  The new procedure limited access to penal institutions by civic organizations and journalists to certain strictly stipulated times at the weekend with prior permission needed.

Such restrictions seriously hamper work with prisoners being carried out by civic organizations in providing legal, psychological and other assistance. For those members of the media and civic organizations who work a normal week, this means that they are also forced to work at the weekend. Restricting visiting hours to the weekends according to the Department-imposed timetable visiting regulations rendered meaningless the already minimal opportunities for the public to monitor penal institutions.

  The appeal from Donetsk Memorial to the Head of the Department to cancel the unlawful instruction led nowhere. The Department justified the appearance of the instruction as being for good intentions to  establish order with regard to access by members of the media and civic organizations since “visits to penal institutions and SIZO require additional measures to safeguard security which distracts personnel from fulfilling their direct duties”,

Donetsk Memorial then turned to the management of the Department again, this time with an open letter in which it stressed that the behaviour of the Department ran counter to European standards in the penitentiary sphere.  The organization also turned with a request to check the legality of the Department’s actions to the Prosecutor General’s Office which concluded that the instructions were unlawful and instructed the State Department for the Execution of Sentences to remove the identified violations of the law. The unlawful instruction was cancelled on 10 September 2007.

Yet even after it had been cancelled, some territorial bodies insisted on following it. For example, the management of the Volyn Regional Division of the Department and the administrations of some of the region’s penal institutions, including the Kovel Educational Colony, issued instructions which restricted visiting hours to the weekends for supervisory commissions, these being structures which are entitled to carry out public control over the institutions.

In response to complaints, the First Deputy to the Head of the Department said that he saw no infringements in the behaviour of the management of the Volyn Regional Division of the Department.

The management of the Department in its turn constantly asserts that the system is open for the public and that all civic organizations that wish to can get into the penal institutions. To prove this at the beginning of 2008 it published statistical information about visits to the institutions by journalists, foreign nationals and civic organizations.

  “During the last three years cooperation with civic organizations has been rapidly increasing. For example, in 2005 various civic organizations visited institutions of the penal service 6, 168 times; in 2006 – 8, 227 times; and in 2007 – 9, 467 times (that is, on average each institution was visited 52 times a year.

  Increasing media attention to the work of the bodies and institutions of the penal service can also be observed. During the last three years the number of visits by representatives of the media to penal institutions and SIZO has risen by almost 27 percent (from 889 in 2005 to 1126 in 2007).

  Interest from international organizations is also increasing in cooperation with institutions of the penal service. Merely in the last three years Department institutions have been visited 845 times by representatives of other countries, including 145 times in 2005, 233 in 2006 and 467 last year.[34]

  The role which the Department sets for the public demonstrates the issue of subordination of the system to the Ministry of Justice. Despite the fact that this step was a requirement in joining the Council of Europe, the Department initiated signatures in 2007 from civic organizations to defend the Department against such possible subordination. The Department itself prepared an appeal to the then Prime Minister V. Yanukovych (January 2007) and sent it around to civic organizations for signatures. As a result various organizations signed one and the same text which is saturated with special terms and facts that all the signing organizations would hardly have known.

The numerous suggestions sent to the Head of the Department from civic organizations often receive no response at all. There has been no response to virtually any open letter.

A number of suggestions from Donetsk Memorial made after the check of the Department within the makeup of the Cabinet of Ministers inter-departmental commission have also elicited no response. Among the suggestions were: holding a roundtable with the participation of the heads of the subdivisions of the Department and human rights groups to discuss ways and procedure for interaction; changes in the approach of the management to public initiatives to carry out studies into various aspects of the work of the institutions; introducing an algorithm jointly worked out by Department specialists and representatives of leading human rights organizations on swift response to reports of human rights violations in the penal institutions; involving the broader public, including specialists from the Ukrainian Penitentiary Society and other leading scholars in preparing and discussing a Concept Strategy for the development of the penal service; a balanced approach from the Department to resolving issues on observance of human rights and international standards in this sphere, issues of penal regime and security and others.

The management of the Department often ignores seminars and other events run by civic organizations. During a project aimed at improving penal legislation, Donetsk Memorial and the Chernihiv Women’s Human Rights Centre invited the management on a number of occasions to take part in conferences they were running. The Department avoided any active part in these measures.

Over the last three years the Department has not once invited the Ukrainian Penitentiary Society to any of its events to which it invited other civic organizations and members of the public. The Society is made up of leading specialists in penitentiary matters and its management includes more candidates (PhD) and doctors of sciences than in the management of the Department.

Certain possibilities for the development of cooperation between penal institutions and civic organizations were created after the issuing in 2004 of a Cabinet of Ministers Resolution which envisaged the creation of Public Councils attached to the divisions of the Department. These councils were created however they have either remained on paper or are involved largely with carrying out cultural measures in the institutions which is not in line with the basic aim for creating such structures.

The real role of the Public Council attached to the Department is demonstrated by the position of its head I.V. Shtanko, a former head of the Department and now retired. From July 2007 to January 2008 Donetsk Memorial approached the head of the Council five times with strong requests to hold meetings of the Council and consider issues involving cooperation between human rights organizations and penal institutions in connection with exceptional incidents – cases where spetsnaz units were deployed and prisoners beaten, deaths in the Lukyanivsk SIZO in Kyiv and hunger strikes. Shtanko did not respond to any of these appeals. Worried letters with calls to hold meetings of the Public Council as soon as possible were also sent twice to some of its members who are heads of civic organizations. There was also no response from them.

The Public Council did not meet from August 2007 for seven months. It met finally only in March 2008 however pressing issues of cooperation with human rights organizations were not included on the agenda. Effectively all the main problems with cooperation between civic organizations and penal institutions on human rights issues have not been afforded any attention by the Public Council.

As the logical summary for the numerous human rights violations, the heads of the Department received the anti-award “Thistle of the Year”. This is awarded by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union’s to public officials or public bodies for the most flagrant and dangerous human rights abuses during that year.  The Head of the Department was one of the recipients of the anti-award for the second year running in the category “for absolute failure to act in cases of human rights abuse”. Human rights defenders believe that it is he who bears full responsibility for all the unlawful actions and omissions of his subordinates guilty of violating prisoners’ rights.  Another laureate of the anti-award was Mykola Iltyai, First Deputy to the Head of the Department “for brutal violence against prisoners”..

The “Thistle of the Year” awards were the assessment of human rights defenders and civic society of the real achievements of the management of the Department in the area of human rights.[35]




Of fifteen suggestions made in the Report Human Rights in Ukraine 2007 not one was carried out. There were no improvements at all in 2007.

  We must yet again state that Ukraine’s commitment given on joining the Council of Europe in 1995 to transfer the system of the execution of judgements to the Ministry of Justice has yet to be honoured. The management of the Department remains stubbornly against such subordination, and is resorting to an imitation of public support for its autonomous status.. At the same time, during the ten years of its existence the Department has taken no measures to prepare for such subordination at all. There are no plans for preparing these measures and no stages for such preparation.

  There has been no demilitarization of the Department. Even quite the contrary: from 1999 to 2008 the number of employees of the Department with military rank rose by 24%, while the number of civilian members of staff decreased by 47 %.

The trend towards a decrease in the number of prisoners in penal institutions is continuing with this in general having a positive effect on the conditions.   

In 2007 the Department continued and even extended its practice of adopting departmental documents which violate the rights of remand and convicted prisoners. Norm-creation heavily favours issues of safety and security at the expense of human rights. The public and leading scholars are not involved in drawing up documents pertaining to human rights.

The human rights situation in penal institutions is somewhat deteriorating as regards the treatment by staff of prisoners. Just as a year ago, respect for human rights and dignity has yet to become the dominant factor of penal policy, while the existing treatment of prisoners is based on strict demands of obedience imposed by the penal administration.  This is compounded by the lack of an effective mechanism for lodging complaints.

Protest actions by prisoners have become more frequent, yet there has been no open analysis of the reasons for this development. The results of investigations into incidents which have occurred have not been made released and the public are sometimes given incorrect information about what really happened, with cases of beatings and ill-treatment of prisoners being denied. Punitive measures are used against prisoners who complain or take protest action.

  The human rights situation is exacerbated by ill-considered staffing policy by the Department management. People are taken on, often at managerial level, who do not have the necessary experience in this area. Unfortunate staffing decisions are combined with a lack of social protection of personnel.

  There is no effective and public reaction from the management to cases of corruption among penal staff and the management of the Department.

Access to information within the system is far too restricted. Public officials continue to not provide answers to formal requests for information. No measures are taken against employees who contravene information legislation.

Cooperation with the public, in the first instance, with nongovernmental organizations, is confined to material assistance for the system and isolated services of a legal and consultative nature for prisoners. . The Department management continues to avoid cooperating with organizations which have their own views on facts and events and who express criticism of the management.

There is no public control over observance of the rights of convicted and remand prisoners, nor over the work of penal institutions.. The public councils attached to divisions of the Department are either not functioning or are exclusively concerned with running cultural events. The Public Council attached to the Department only meets twice a year and does not consider urgent human rights issues. Its head does not react to appeals from civic organizations, and the Council effectively simulates consultation with the public.




  1. Complete the process of transferring the Department to the Ministry of Justice as called for in PACE Resolution № 1466 (2005)
  2. Stop adopting normative legal acts and other departmental documents whose provisions violate human rights. In drawing them up, introduce compulsory consultation with the public as demanded by the “Procedure for holding consultations with the public on the formation and implementation of government policy”, passed by Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 1378 from 15 October 2004.
  3. Increase attention to issues relating to the observance of human rights, respect for the human dignity both of people imprisoned, and personnel of the penal institutions, and not just confine oneself to declarations on this subject. Establish human rights observance as one of the highest priorities in the Department’s norm creation.
  4. Carry out without delay a comprehensive analysis of normative legal documents and other normative acts of the Department to determine whether they comply with international standards, involving independent specialists, including from the Penitentiary Association of Ukraine, in this work.
  5. Involve a wide range of specialists in discussion of a Strategy for reforming the penal system, and definitely introduce independent expert conclusion on the Strategy, and public debate.
  6. Change approaches in staffing policy, paying considerably more attention to a careful choice of managerial staff within the bodies of the Department, and reduce to a minimum the appointment to managerial positions of people who do not have experience of the system and have not undergone the relevant checking procedure to see whether they are professionally suitable.
  7. Immediately and significantly review the objectives and level principles for the activities of special units within the system and preclude their use in carrying our searches and other activities within the institutions.
  8. Draw up and implement procedure for effective and swift response to reforms of possible human rights violations in penal institutions, in cooperation with leading human rights organizations.
  9. Introduce a real and working system for submitting complaints; put an end to the practice of punishing prisoners for attempts to appeal against the behaviour of the penal administration and set down an exhaustive list of actions which will incur disciplinary penalties.
  10. Scrupulously check all possible cases of corrupt activities by employees of the system. Publicly express the position of the Department with regard to all cases found to have substance.
  11. Put an end to the practice of procrastinating or dragging out consideration of initiatives from the public and carry out independent studies and monitoring. Introduce monitoring of prisoners’ conditions on a wide scale, and prepare annual reports on the state of affairs in the system by nongovernmental organizations, including with public funding, as well as the preparation of alternative reports, reports on problems or on areas of activity of the institutions; use measures to react against managers who stall or obstruct such initiatives.
  12. Consider the possibility of making it compulsory to become familiar with, and where possible, discuss in the Department’s bodies and institutions the results of independent studies and monitoring, annual Reports prepared and carried out by civic organizations and other independent bodies, and the use where necessary of measures of response. Regularly inform about the actions and measures of the Department aimed at implementing the results of the studies and their recommendations.
  13. Qualitatively increase information to society about the situation and problems of the system via regularly carrying out a wide range of measures such as press conferences, roundtables, as well as simplifying the procedure for providing access of members of the public and journalists to penal institutions.
  14. Significantly improve the practice of providing information in response to information requests from individuals and organizations. Prevent the issuing of untruthful reports by the representatives of the system, use effective means of response to infringements of legislation on information by public officials and employees of penal institutions. Create a press service for the Department in each region.
  15. Promote renewal of the work of the Public Council attached to the Department, activate public councils attached to territorial divisions of the Department, and where necessary make changes to the makeup of these councils, support amendments to the Regulations on Supervisory Commissions.
  16. Promote the creation of mechanisms of public control over the work of penal institutions.


[1] The report has been prepared by Oleksandr Bukalov, Head of the civic organization “Donetsk Memorial”. The analysis of legislation on the opportunities for prisoners to appeal against the actions or inaction of the administrations of penal institutions was made by Mykhailo Minyaev (Zaporizhya). . Iryna Yavkovets from Kharkiv took part In preparing sections of the report on legislation.  The main sources were projects and studies within these projects, material from seiminars and conferences; the replies of penal institutions to formal information requests from Donetsk Memorial; publications in the media, including Internet outlets; letters and appeals from people presently in the system’s institutions. A lot of material was taken from the study “Criminal Punishment in Ukraine” prepared and published with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.  The authors cannot, as previously, exclude that some of the facts cited here might not find corroboration, and certain conclusions are subject to debate. We would ask for understanding given the constraints with time and resources which prevented the study being fuller and more substantial. We are convinced, however, that such an assessment of the work of the penal system in the country is needed and beneficial.

[2]  More details about the creation of the Department for the Execution of Sentences can be found in Human Rights in Ukraine – 2005

[3] Presidential Decree No. 39/2006 from 20 January 2006 “On an Action Plan for fulfilling Ukraine’s duties and obligations arising from its membership of the Council of Europe”

[4] Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 683 from 17 May 2006 “On amendments to the list of central authorities whose activities are directed and coordinated by the Cabinet of Ministers through the appropriate ministers”

[5] The Law “On the general structure and size of the Penal System of Ukraine”

[6] “Criminal Punishment in Ukraine” // “Donetsk Memorial”, 2007, p. 22.

[7] „”The President needs fresh blood and at least one modern prison” // the Internet publication “Ukrainska Pravda”, 24.12.2007,

[8] O. Betsa: “Where is Ukraine’s prison system heading?” // Prison Website,

[9] „Report on removing shortcomings in the work of the State Department of Ukraine for the Execution of Sentences, set out in an act based on the results of a check conducted by an inter-departmental government commission from 17-28 September 2007 // Prison Website. Figures as of the middle of 2007

[10] See the sections on prisoners’ rights in “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2005” and “Human Rights in Ukraine – 2006”, available at and

[11] Approved by Department Order No. 261 from 16 December 2003

[12] Approved by Cabinet of Ministers Resolution No. 429 from 1 April 2004 .

[13] Open letter to Ukraine’s leaders over serious problems in the penal system

[14] Report on the number of people serving sentences in penal institutions in Ukraine as of 01.01.2008.  Department website

[15] Criminal Punishment in Ukraine” // “Donetsk Memorial”, 2007. According to figures for 2007 sent in a letter from the Department № 17-692/Іp dated 4 Febraury 2008.

[16] Site of the Department for the Execution of Sentences

[17] Yevhen Zakharov: Brutal beating of prisoners in the Izyaslav Penal Colony №31 (Preliminary analysis)


[18] Ibid

[19]  Anton Motovilov: Mask shows from the GULAG forever?”

[20]  “Prosecutor General again looks the wrong way over the likely beating of prisoners”


[21] Ibid

[22] “Nina Karpachova spent 48 hours in the SIZO” // official site of the Human Rights Ombudsperson 27 July 2007

[23] “So did a spetsnaz unit beat prisoners of Penal Colony No. 60?  Statement from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

15.11.2007 .

[24]  “Beyond the “zone” of duty // “Ukraina moloda”  28 February 2008.

[25] The “Maidan” website ,  04-12-2007.

[26] “Hunger strike in Izyaslav Penal Colony”

[27] Ibid.

[28] The reference in the text is Much the same information is available in English here: Conflicting stories over three cases of self-mutilation in a penal colony 


[30] “Torture continues in Ukraine’s prisons

[31] Yevhen Zakharov: Brutal beating of prisoners in the Izyaslav Penal Colony №31 (Preliminary analysis)


[32] The Thing in itself,


[34]  “Are there not too few checks?” // Article on the website of the State Department for the Execution of Sentences”

[35] See for example: “Human rights violators get their just thistles

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