Police Stations – Scene of Crime

The government has reinstated public councils attached to law enforcement departments. These were dissolved when Anatoly Mohylyov became Minister of Internal Affairs with the change of government in 2010. Experts from the Association of Ukrainian Monitors of Human Rights Observance by the Police [the Association] are convinced that public monitoring of police activities partially protects citizens from police lawlessness.

On the street police most often unlawfully stop students (whose clothes and style are not to their taste), young people not working, and in Kyiv people who have come for work from the regions. A lot of men get taken to police stations, and they beat confessions out of people who have committed no crime.


The author slightly muddles the following case, so this is from our reports


Lviv human rights activist, Oleksy Verentsov together with Ihor Tanichkevcyh were arrested on 14 October 2010 over their peaceful picket outside the Prosecutor’s Office in Lviv and sentenced to three days administrative arrest. This was for both holding the picket and for not obeying police officers who told them to stop. This ruling was passed by the Halytsky District Court in Lviv with Verentsov’s lawyer not being admitted to the court hearing.


The Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union turned to the European Court of Human Rights stating in its application that there had been a clear violation of the right to peaceful assembly and the right to a fair trial. It also issued an open appeal calling on the Ukrainian authorities to stop harassment of human rights activists. 


Death in custody

Head of the Association, Oleh Martynenko says that the main places where crimes are committed in police stations are the temporary holding facilities.  This year 32 people have died while being questioned in police stations, this being almost double the figure last year.


“People died in different situations:  some suffered heart failure in a state of intoxication; others were beaten and interrogated. According to sociological surveys, in 2010 over 600 thousand citizens detained by the police suffered from unlawful violence”.

According to official MIA data, the largest number of deaths this year were recorded in police stations in Donetsk, Kyiv, Kharkiv Region and the Crimea.


Falling level of trust in the police


According to member of the Association and former Human Rights Adviser to the previous Minister of Internal Affairs, Taras Hatalyak, following instructions from the Minister public councils attached to MIA departments are presently being formed. 25 human rights workers are on the Council in the Lviv Regions and victims can turn to them. The civic activists hope that they will soon be able to not only monitor, but also visit police stations, this being the most effective way of at least partially stopping police lawlessness. Experts have often seen traces of blood on the walls of offices and in the basements of temporary holding facilities.


Taras Hatalyak says that in 2006 when they began, no obstacles were put in their way, whereas now they are trying to get permission. Time will tell.


Confidence among victims of lawlessness is not high. If two years ago only 17% of Ukrainians trusted the police, this year the figure will be much lower, the experts believe.

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