NGOs object to unwarranted detention of Kharkiv police officers

A number of human rights organizations including KHPG and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union have addressed an open statement over the detention of three police officers in the Kharkiv SIZO. 

On 12 June 2013 in a Kharkiv restaurant conflict broke out between drunken guests.  Police officers who came in response to a call out tried to stop the fight and were forced to use special means against one of those involved who turned out to be a judge from the Kyivsky District Court in Kharkiv. The Prosecutor’s staff who appeared at the scene detained the police officers and took them to court where the police were remanded in custody in the SIZO.

We believe that arrest and remand of the above-mentioned police officers in a SIZO is not warranted.

They pose no public danger and in this situation clearly acted in the public interest to protect public order. The police officers who were entrusted with weapons to defend public order have in an instant, without any real investigation, been turned into people who need to be removed from the public behind bars. We would remind those concerned that remand in custody is an exceptional preventive measures which should only be applied in cases where no other measure is capable of ensuring that the needs of justice are met.

Haste in remanding the police officers in custody may be interpreted as a demonstration showing police officers, and with them all the Ukrainian public, that there is a caste of people who can’t be touched. This can create a dangerous precedent which not only adversely affects perception of the role of the court and Prosecutor’s office in society, but also undermines trust in law-abiding behaviour in general.

We urge the Prosecutor’s Office and court to review the decision to remand the police officers in custody as soon as possible, and to ensure an open and just review of this case.

Kharkiv Institute for Social Research

The Association of Independent Monitors of Places of Confirnement

The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

The Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors of Law Enforcement

The Kharkiv Human Rights Group

The Human Rights Information Centre

The Centre for Civil Liberties

The Youth Alternative NGO M’ART

The Donetsk regional NGO Centre for Human Rights Monitoring

The Donetsk regional NGO Centre for Human Rights Protection “Dike”

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