ECHR: Number of cases over torture on the increase

The European Court of Human Rights Judgement in the Case of Nechiporuk and Yonkalo v. Ukraine became final on 21 July 2011. As reported, the case involved a person being tortured and no proper investigation being carried out. Radio Svoboda spoke about the case, and the urgent need for an adequate means of reacting to the issue of torture by police officers with Valeria Lutkovska, Government Representative on European Court of Human Rights matters and Executive Secretary of the Commission on Prevention of Torture.

Ms Lutkovska explains that Nechiporuk was tortured using electric shock by the police in order to extract a confession out of him. He did not give the confession and  then they asked him whether his wife who at that point was eight months pregnant would endure the same as he had. The police told him that his wife was already in the police station, in a nearby office.  At that point, Nechiporuk gave a confession for all the crimes he was charged with.


The European Court analyzed all the facts and found that Nechiporuk had been tortured, that his right to not testify against himself had been violated, and that there had not been an efficient investigation into the complaints which he made.


Ms Lutkovska was asked if the people who tortured Nechiporuk were still in their posts. She answered that they had approached the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Prosecutor General asking whether the police officers had retained their jobs, as well as the staff of the Prosecutor’s Office who took the decisions to refuse to initiate criminal proceedings against the police officers. This had specific consequences for the country, both in terms of its international reputation, and financially since compensation has already been paid.  They had also proposed holding a joint meeting on this specific case and others, since the number of such cases has been increasing over recent times and adequate government reaction is needed.


The Prosecutor General’s Office reported that it wanted to deal with this issue in a comprehensive manner, she says, and therefore proposed holding the meeting later. “We then sent the Prosecutor General’s Office all ten cases which related to torture and ineffective investigation where the European Court passed judgement this year. We gave the names of all those public officials involved, who took decisions to refuse to initiate criminal proceedings, and as a result, the European Court of Human Rights found that there had been violations of Article 3 of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms…”

She says that they are waiting for information from the Prosecutor’s Office so as to determine how to resolve the issue and get to the specific culprits.  Every time they try at domestic level to get a specific public official prosecuted, they get shown a valid decision by the Prosecutor’s office saying that there are no grounds for initiating a criminal investigation or there is a court ruling confirming the Prosecutor’s decision.


She says that there is an urgent need to find a means of reacting to such decisions from the Prosecutor’s office. She says that this could be analogous to the decision regarding domestic court rulings. If a person has gone through all Ukrainian court levels and the European Court has judged in his or her favour, then there is procedure allowing the Supreme Court to revoke previous rulings and send the case for a new examination in a first instance court.


If there was no court ruling, only an investigation by the Prosecutor’s office, there is no such procedure in legislation at all. Such a means needs to be found.


There also needs to be a way found for reaction to what has been stated in the European Court  she says that this will be the subject of the joint meets which she hopes will take place in the near future.


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