war crimes in Ukraine

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Pshonka issues instruction for Tymoshenko to be treated outside prison


The Prosecutor General’s Office has posted a statement saying that the Prosecutor General, Viktor Pshonka has reviewed an application from Yulia Tymoshenko’s defence lawyers. He has apparently sent the relevant instruction to the State Penitentiary Service as well as the Health Ministry on the necessary measures for ensuring Ms Tymoshenko’s examination and treatment in a specialized medical institution outside the Kachanivska Colony.

As reported, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) decided on 15 March 2012 to indicate to the Ukrainian Government, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, that it ensure that former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko receive adequate medical treatment in an appropriate institution.

The Court did not, and could not, indicate a specific place where Ms Tymoshenko should be transferred, and the government, for example, the Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych, tried to use this, claiming that there was no strict necessity for the former Prime Minister to be transferred to a hospital and that she could be treated in the prison colony.

Ukraine’s first Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (1997-2008), Volodymyr Butkevych disagreed and said that the situation with the decision regarding Tymoshenko was very clear.  The government is not absolved of its responsibility to provide proper medical assistance by the fact that a person is in prison. Rule 39 is applied when there is evidence to suggest that a person is not being given the proper medical assistance. The Court cannot state where a person should be treated but it can oblige the country with respect to whom Rule 39 is applied to give the person proper medical care.

“Obviously the government can say that it is providing Tymoshenko with medical care in prison. There is apparently such a possibility. However I would warn that there will later be an investigation”. If that shows that the government did not behave properly, there will be liability for this on top of any other liability which the Court establishes.

Volodymyr Butkevych stressed that the very fact of the application of Rule 39 indicates that the Court does not believe the prison is in a position to provide the necessary medical care. If Tymoshenko did not get the necessary care, he warned, the sanctions would be significant. 

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