war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Administration punishments and human rights

G. Mamonov, Kyiv
Violations of human rights are well-noticeable when people are tried in courts. Yet, there is a vast field - administrative punishments, where the violations of human rights are not so noticeable. The reason is the tiny scale of felonies and punishments as compared with criminal affairs, where hard punishments are on stake.

In Ukraine the scale of administrative punishments is large. The Administrative Code mentions 275 felonies and is replenished every year: since 1985 more than 100 changes and addenda were incorporated, more than half of them during the recent five years. 39 various state officers and 35 organizations have the right to impose administrative punishments, and this number is continuing to grow. In his interview published in the magazine ’Imenem zakonu’ (’No. 6, p.10) Yu. Kravchenko, the Minister of Interior, told that militia issued more than 18 million administrative protocols for citizens. The dynamics of the number of administrative punishment steadily grows: 6.5 millions people were punished in 1990 and more than 22 million in 1995. Having in mind that the population of Ukraine is about 50 million, this is a very large number.

Mostly the felonies are insignificant and the punishments are insignificant as well. More serious violations concern property relations. They happen at custom houses while confiscation or detainment of various items of property. Sometimes the detained goods are damaged. For example, when some transport vehicles are detained, they are kept on special parking sites. These sites are guarded inadequately, the cars standing there are robbed of parts, and nobody is responsible. Taking into account the problems of the automobile market in Ukraine, this problem is very acute.

A serious administrative punishment is the administrative arrest for the term of up to 15 days. Now, to arrest someone only two reports of militiamen are needed, although recently the same act needed two reports and the evidence of two neutral citizens. In 1997 courts ruled out more than 150 thousand arrests for the term up to 15 days. In 1998 this number was increased by 9 thousand, and the proportion of the arrests reached 46.4% of all administrative punishments. The administrative arrest is mostly appointed for petty hooliganism or disobedience to militiamen. Such cases are considered in a simplified manner. It happens that a judge considers 20 - 25 administrative cases during 1 - 1.5 hours. Judges of Kyiv, of Kyiv and Lugansk oblasts consider more administrative cases than in other regions of Ukraine. It is obvious that such consideration cannot be objective or accurate.

People suspected of grave crimes are sometimes arrested administratively for petty hooliganism or disobedience to militiamen. Staying under such an arrest they are interrogated without advocates and often confess of the crimes committed. Courts and prosecutor’s offices do not pay attention how later, when the serious crimes are considered in the court, that the evidence was collected while the culprit was under an administrative arrest. Since the short administrative arrest is a convenient place for squeezing out evidence, this trick is applied rather often. How often it is done, we cannot say, since the corresponding statistics is not gathered. An example is described in the newspaper ’Kievskie vedomosti’. A young man was detained in the Kyiv oblast, brought to Kyiv and here was arrested for bad language. Later, being under administrative arrest, he confessed of the theft. Another example, in connection with the notorious case of M. Brodskiy, two workers of the concern ’Dandy’ were detained by militia in Borispol airport; then they were brought to the center of Kyiv either for an interrogation or just for a talk. The detained, who risked to be late for their flight, were provoked to use bad language. Somehow the chairman of the district court appeared in his office on the day-off and he quickly ruled to put the both men under the administrative arrest. Then the investigation began. There are many cases of this sort, the detained are usually accused of using bad language in a public place.

Administrative punishments are often imposed on marginal people, beggars, illiterate, psychic cases, etc. When their cases are considered, they do not understand what is going on.

The violations of the behavior rules which are punished administratively must certainly be punished, but here misuse of power is probable. For example, a great number of complaints at road militia are handed. That is why the administrative practices need to be paid more attention as to observance of human rights. Many administrative rules are doubtful and do not agree with the Constitution. For example, the Administrative Code prohibits to employ persons subject to the draft who are not recorded in a military commissariat (Article 211-3 of the Administrative Code). Neither persons without propiska may be employed (Article 200 of the same Code). People have no right to reside without a propiska (Article 197 of the same Code). All these articles are still operating. Perhaps, creating special administrative courts or, at least, specialization of judges in administrative cases will improve the situation. Statistics show that this is important since the number of administrative cases greatly exceeds the number of criminal cases. This is becoming more important because a number of insignificant crimes have been already passed to the simplified form of consideration (Article 32 of the Criminal Code), and there is a general tendency to put forward this process.

Citizens must use their right to lodge a complaint against administrative verdicts. This they may do during ten days after the verdict to a higher judicial body. Besides, the verdict of the administrative court can be protested by the prosecutor.

If a complaint is lodged against the administrative ruling, then witnesses, translators, experts, advocates may be called. A person punished administratively has the right to hand a requests to get acquainted with materials of the case, to present proofs. One should not forget these rights and ought to use them.

At last, consideration of administrative protocols by the court must be open, and the presence of public witnesses, relatives and legal representatives at the trial may influence the manner of consideration and assist to better observance of human rights, thus preventing administrative punishments to become a tool of massive terror, which serves interests of separate individuals or groups.
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