Human rights activists demand investigation of beatings at Simferopol SIZO

Representatives of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group insist that an immediate investigation be carried out and information provided about the brutal beating of a number of prisoners held in the Simferopol SIZO [pre-trial detention centre]. Their information was received from various sources and indicates that two prisoners were maimed, four brutally beaten and one was flung into a punishment cell. Officials from the Department of the Penitentiary Service deny this.

According to Andriy Didenko, KHPG Programme Coordinator, information first emerged on the eve of the May holidays that around 40 Special Forces fighters of the State Penitentiary Service armed with machine guns had been brought into the SIZO. been brought into the that 40

There were immediate fears for the prisoners’ safety since shortly before them, following their complaints, a check by the head of the State Service, carried out together with the Crimean Prosecutor, identified numerous infringements by the management of the Simferopol SIZO with this resulting in the dismissal of heads of the institution.

On 6 May, Andriy Didenko continues, there were reports which cannot be checked, but which came from various sources, that the Special Forces fighters of the State Penitentiary Service deployed at the SIZO had beaten up inmates. The scale of this beating is not known, and attempts are being made to find out more information, but the names of seven men allegedly beaten have been learned.

Mykola Shyshchenko from the Crimean Penitentiary Service categorically denies the information and says that nobody was beaten, and no on put in a punishment cell. He says that he has spoken with the SIZO doctors and visited the punishment cell.

There has, however, as reported here been a press release issued confirming that on the eve of the May holidays a special operation codenamed “Shield” began, and that this has resulted in many mobile telephones, DVD players, sharp items and other things being taken away from remand prisoners.

The press release claims that this operation, allowed by Ukrainian legislation, aroused disgruntlement among a special contingent of the Simferopol SIZO who they allege are trying to discredit the legitimate demands of the management.

Andriy Didenko is adamant that the information needs to be thoroughly checked with swift response from the Prosecutor and management of the Penitentiary Service. He says that they want to create a mobile group capable of checking such cases and that they are presently trying to gather support from National Deputies and the Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Office.

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