Philosophy of Disrespect

In his article entitled Philosophy of Disrespect, Volodymyr Batchaev recalls how at a much publicized meeting on 21 June to review the work of prosecutor’s offices for the first half of 2011, the Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka stated the following:


“The issue of observance of human rights in criminal proceedings is particularly acute in Ukraine. There are not isolated incidents of torture at the stages of detective enquiry and criminal investigation”.

Entirely agreeing with this statement, the Association of Monitors of Human Rights Observance by the Police [the Association] wrote to Mr Pshonka suggesting that a working group be formed with the participation of representatives of the prosecutor’s office, scholars and representatives of civic organizations. This working group would draw up forms of access for institutions of public control over investigations, over cases of torture and ill-treatment in police custody.


In his letter, the Head of the Association, Oleh Martynenko stressed that the need to implement European Court of Human Rights judgments make it imperative to ensure that those involved in detective enquiry and criminal investigations observe minimum standards on investigating cases of torture and ill-treatment inflicted by people in authority. He pointed out that one of these standards is that such investigations must be subject to public scrutiny.  There is, however, no procedure within the law enforcement bodies for ensuring such access.


Oleh Martynenko wrote that during an international conference on the problems linked with the application of European Court case law in Ukraine on 1 July in the Supreme Court, there had been consensus over the need and possibility of creating such a working group.


He hoped that the Prosecutor General’s Office management would understand “the importance of establishing the proper level of trust and cooperation between the public and law enforcement bodies” and would consider the creation of such a working group with the participation of NGOs, including members of the Association.


The answer from the head of the Central Department for Overseeing Observance of the Law in carrying out Investigative Operations, V. Bilous was staggering: “Participation in the work of civic organizations of staff of the prosecutor’s office is not envisaged by current legislation”.


Volodymyr Batchaev writes that at least it’s honest. The Association will return the compliment and be just as honest. “In the view of those same civic organizations with whom you so categorically refused not only to cooperate, but even to discus the issue of violence in the law enforcement bodies, the Prosecutor’s Office is not fulfilling its obligation to protect citizens from police arbitrary rule.” 


Through its response, the Prosecutor’s Office has yet again demonstrated that it has no intention of shifting from its old mould and changing its attitude to the Ukrainian public.


In concluding the Association reminds the Prosecutor’s Office that they did not write to the head of the Central Department for Overseeing Observance of the Law in carrying out Investigative Operations, V. Bilous, but directly to the Prosecutor General and, in accordance with the Law on Citizens’ Appeals they await a response from the recipient.


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