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UHHRU: The MIA must be demilitarized and under public scrutiny

08.10.2011    source:
Higher salaries and better conditions, without real reform will mean only that detainees are tortured or beaten in newly-painted premises, Volodymyr Yavorsky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union warns

Volodymyr Yavorsky, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union believes that the police must be demilitarized and placed under public control. He was speaking with the Deutsche Welle Ukrainian Service following parliamentary hearings on reform of the law enforcement agencies.

At the hearings the current Minister of Internal Affairs, Anatoly Mohylyov asserted that if his financing was tripled, he could transform the Ukrainian law enforcement body [militsia] into a police force, taking neighbouring Poland as an example. He acknowledged that the actions of his subordinates during a bloody “anti-terrorist” operation last weekend [following the killing of police officers] had been ineffective, but claimed that this was because the previous leadership had removed training in special operations. He asserted that the reasons for the low level of public trust in the police, as seen in public opinion surveys, lay in the poor quality of police staff, insufficient financing and low pay.

Viktor Shvets, BYUT Deputy, believes that the MIA remains a bureaucratic monster with the central office employing three thousand people. He says that two thirds of Ukrainians fear that in any contact with the police torture will be applied, and believe that flagrant corruption is thriving in the MIA.

He said that the MIA system should be reformed following German experience and specifically noted that preparations for Euro 2012 could have based on Munich’s experience.

However Volodymyr Yavorsky stresses that successful reform of the MIA is impossible without public information. The UHHRU Executive Director said that the MIA remains a repressive mechanism which has virtually remained unchanged since Soviet times and needs radical reform. It is most vital to demilitarize the police and to introduce public control over the work of the MIA.

“If the police unlawfully detained, tortured and beat up people before, if the Ministry receives more funding, they will detain, torture and beat  them up in renovated premises, dressed in a new uniform and bring people there in new cars”, he pointed out. 

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