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 ПУБЛІКАЦІЇ -- Із зарубіжної преси

The day of the tortured

    Tortures… the word itself make one to feel a shiver. What appears on mind are middle age towers crowded with prisoners tortured for offences that indeed are considered as attainment of the civilization? One also may imagine dark cellars of The Inquisition where they extort the heresy avowal from Giordano Bruno… But by no means is it associated with our enlightened century when human society reached its highest formation, Democracy. Nevertheless, in some countries tortures are flourishing while somewhere attain other, perverted and masked forms. So, it was not for nothing that 26 November, 1987, the civilized Europe adopted The Europe’s Convention of Preventing Tortures and Inhuman or Abasing Human Dignity Treatment and Penalties. Ukraine has also joined that humanistic by its nature document. This week our Convention will reach its age of mature. But “the teenager” seems to grow up an unattended orphan.
    From history of tortures in Ukraine
    I would rather restrain from mentioning Cossack’s spears that our brave ancestors so willingly used to pierce their enemies. It is impossible to avoid such a feature of our law-protecting and in-power authorities as their disposition towards repressions. Those exotic Ukrainian chiefs as, for instance, Ustym Karmalyuk, were forced to calm down their social foes that way. But exaggerated violence performed by such respectable masters as Khmelnitskiy or Mazepa, well described by the historical literature, looks simply scaring. One might think that doing so somebody just tried to simplify investigatory work. Later it became evident that so it really was. Then came the Soviet power in Ukraine with its notorious “tribunals of the three“, “superior measures of social defense”, “red terror” and likes that entirely brushed out people’s yearning for fair State system. At Soviet time, particularly in its late years, no-one believed that “my Militia would save me”. Later this quotation was continued with sad and sarcastic “…then will lock and hold me”. The right of individual protection from repressive State apparatus was entirely demolished in Soviet Ukraine. Tortures that factually substituted investigation were totally used here. Rumors about pinching fingers between doors at investigatory cabinets were taken for granted. The Militia did not give itself many efforts to prove one’s guilt. The presumption of innocence factually ceased its existence. That is what independent Ukraine has inherited from the Soviets. But even those eleven years that have passed since The Day of Independence, left amongst Ukrainians feeling that reformation of The Militia resulted only in it’s uniform that has changed from dull “government issue” to fop’s, silver-embodied jacket.
    The Militia inquisition
    According to The Human Rights Plenipotentiary in Ukraine, within last four years over 400 officers of The Militia have been brought to criminal proceedings for violence; 168 of them convicted. Only in the last year over 1000 Militia officers were fired because of their disposal for violence. Unfortunately, that, as well as formerly, mainly was made to increase percentage of the revealed offences. This indicates totality and reality of the problem in Ukraine. It is obvious that crimes have to be discovered, but not by committing new ones! Prevalent majority of assault and battery cases are those by operation staff at the Local Offices, all purposed just on extorting avowals of participation in the crimes they have not yet discovered. The most widespread kind of torture in Ukraine are long-timed beating, partial suffocation with a plastic bag or a gas-mask, electrical shock, hanging by wrests in handcuffs and keeping in so called press-cell. In lots of the cases tortures resulted in death, mutilation or steady health disorder of the suspects. The most horrible occasion took place in Chernovtsy last year. The Local Court considered the criminal case against three operatives The Criminal Investigation Department. On 14 May, 2002 they arrested without any ground Oleksanrd Kirilyuk, aged 22 and demanded from him a confession in the theft of a computer. In 7 hours he was delivered to the local hospital with traumas of head, extremities and the breach of rectum. The boy became disabled till the end of his life. The only possible thing at such a situation is apply to the court, of course if one stayed alive. As may the case of 26 years old Yuri Mozola’s parents may serve as a proof of that kind of justice. In March, 1996 Yuri was tortured to death at the investigatory prison of The State Security Service of Ukraine in Lvov region. The parents, disabled, lost their kid, the only supplier of the family. For a year and half the country watched that dramatic case. At last they won: upon the verdict by Frankivsk Town Court from 28 May, 2002 the claim of The Human Rights Plenipotentiary has been met. The tortured boy’s parents got the compensation of 130 000 hrivnas. Unfortunately, the case of convicting murderers is rather an exception than a proof of the democratic rules in our State. Instead of middle age racks and hooks an average Ukrainian is on the watch of numerous upgraded tortures.
    … That ye be not judged
    As a matter of fact, Ukraine subscribed a tremendulous lot of international agreements by what obliges itself to fight against tortures. But in the meantime the practical use of it is too little. As the Militia used to beat off avowals, so it does today. As people formerly used to lose their health in prisons, so they still lose. To starve the prisoners remains the usual practice of the temporary arrest prisons. Right-protecting organizations are regular guests to Ukraine: Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Europe Committee etc. They make inspections, get frightened, give their recommendations and then go away. Tortures, in the meantime, remain and get even spread: procrastination in courts, starvation and terrible living conditions in cells of temporary arrest prisons. The latter, however paradox it may seem, remain the most painful of today’s tortures. Tiny chambers where 25-30 prisoners while away their terms are ruthlessly killing the human’s dignity. Those prisoners having no relatives should to eat disgusting skilly. According to court statistics, in 2001, for instance, 58 000 criminal cases (!!!) were considered by courts with violation of the fixed terms. In the certain regions, namely Kharkiv, Donetsk and Zaporizhya from 40 % to 50 % cases are considered with such a violation. One is even worth mentioning in The Book of Records. Oleksander Litvinenko had been held at Kherson’s investigatory prison for six months without verdict of the court! His case was repeatedly postponed owing to non-appearance of the witnesses, victim persons or lack of financing people’s acessors services etc. But what if not tortures are the court errors: It is just 2001 that 332 indicting verdicts towards not guilty persons were by mistake passed within.
    What should be done?
    To prevent an average reader’s impression, however, that our rights-protecting system got worse upon the Independence than it was at the Soviet time, I will bring an example of the above mentioned verdicts passed in victims favor. In the century of the total information in civil society it is not quite easy to keep one’s filthy things in dark basements. Certainly, to make the butchers feel uncomfortable in our European country, one of the principles to be kept is to constantly develop civic institutes of control of the power forces and creating the transparent and well-controlled society. But in Europe that we are heading to, there is no other vision of the problem. The more useful seems the work that some influent civic organizations started last week. In particular, Rights-protecting Group of Kharkiv and The Ombudsman in Ukraine Secretariat initiated The Campaign against Torturing and Violence in Ukraine. The project meant for the term of 3 years implies to create the network of 25 civic organizations located in regions of Ukraine and establish the Fund for supporting the victims and The Independent Commission of Criminal Medical Experts. Chief of The Rights-protecting Group of Kharkiv, Yevhen Zakharov says:”The project has to change the situation that using tortures still remains unpunished in Ukraine. And Mrs. Ombudsman put forward the idea to hold the tortures victims’ civic tribunal that should make the society hears those who are denied the vote in Ukraine. By the way, our neighbors Russians who also have abnormal situation about tortures now are intended to establish federal (!) agency against torturing controlled by The President of Russia. As for us, we are at the same point. Two years ago there were Parliament Debates focused at Ukraine’s implementation of decisions of The UNO Convention against torturing. Nothing has been done by the people’s deputies since then. As it was heard from The Parliament’s lobby, law-makers consider that coming into force of the New Criminal Code paragraph as to criminal responsibility for using tortures towards prisoners, itself, is the great victory. On opinion of the ROL Foundation’s experts, what could really change the situation is the appointment of Mr. Bilokyn’ as the new Minister Internal Affairs, who is believed to be expert in the problem of torturing.
    After word
    The Soviet man did not need to know much. People in uniform caps took their relative to doors with no writings; the hard doors closed, and that was all. The rest was the whole secret. It is uncertainty and horror that an incontestable authority of the cruel power was based on. Time has changed. We are living now in the country that proclaimed its loyalty to the principles of European democracy. Citizen should not be afraid of the power; the power should not treat him like a fool. Everyone has the right to know what is allowed, what not, and what can happen if he dares to step over that “not”. But first of all he should know is that the penalty he may ever bear is subject to the law, according to the plenty of European conventions that Ukraine signed upon....

Публікація від 16 лютого, 2004 р.

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