The Police have become more transparent. Yet people continue to “disappear”

A complaint alleging bad treatment in a prison can, it seems, lead to a person’s disappearance. This is what happened following Olena Povidaichyk’s appeal on behalf of her son Oleksy.

Oleksy’s mother has not been able to find out the whereabouts of her son during the month which has elapsed since she approached the prosecutor’s office alleging that her son and his friend were being subjected to torture. She alleges that since she made this statement about her son and his friend being beaten, she has started to receive threats and her son has been tortured.

The young man was moved from the Zhytomyr prison and no information has been given as to where. Ms Povidaichyk says that she has also not been able to protect his friend due to threats received. She alleges that she was told that her son would be moved to Donetsk, where he’d simply rot and he wouldn’t leave there alive.

At present, Oleksy is not in the prison they were supposed to transfer him to. However the situation may change.
The Co-Chair of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group Yevhen Zakharov says that the police have become more open and consider complaints alleging illegal actions by their officers. However he is convinced that the situation would improve still further if the prosecutor’s office was more responsible and efficient in investigating cases involving police officers.

Mr Zakharov points out that there is now a special article in the Criminal Code which imposes liability for abuse of official position, however not one criminal investigation has been initiated. An independent mechanism which a year ago Ukraine promised to create (in ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture – OPCAT) is needed to resolve this issue. It needs to have representatives of the public and of human rights organizations.

The European Court of Human Rights can also force Ukraine to create such a system for preventing torture. After all, if Ukraine does not fulfil its commitments, Europe could radically change its policy towards Kyiv.

Marina Hovorukhina

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