Ukraine – Civil society activist Ms Raisa Radchenko subjected to forced psychiatric treatment

On 15 July 2013, the Komunarsky district court judge ordered the enforced hospitalisation and treatment of 70-year-old human rights defender Ms Raisa Radchenko, who has been forcefully kept in psychiatric hospital since her arrest on 12 July 2013. Raisa Radchenko is a civil society activist and member of several local civil initiatives in Zaporizhzhya region in Ukraine. Her work focuses on fighting against illegal constructions on public land, denouncing police corruption and collecting signatures for a campaign calling for the resignation of the Mayor of Zaporizhzhya.

On 10 July 2013, three individuals who introduced themselves as two policemen and one psychiatrist visited the apartment where the human rights defender lives with her daughter. Without allowing the individuals into her apartment, Raisa Radchenko was told by the policemen that they were in possession of a court order to conduct a psychiatric examination on her. As they failed to produce any document, the human rights defender refused to open the door and the individuals left.

On 12 July 2013, when Raisa Radchenko went to the Leninsky district court of Zaporizhzhya in order to inquire about the said court decision, she got arrested. The human rights defender managed to call her daughter, Ms Daryna Radchenko, to ask for help. Daryna Radchenko immediately went to the court, bringing her 5-year-old son with her, but she was met with brutality by police officers who left bruises on her arm.

On 13 July 2013, several local activists, journalists and Raisa Radchenko’s lawyer were refused access to the human rights defender when they try to visit her in the psychiatric institution. Only  Daryna Radchenko was allowed to see her mother very briefly, and in that occasion the human rights defender told her daughter that she had been subjected to injections of unknown substances. Raisa Radchenko is reportedly very weak and unable to walk without assistance.

The Regional Department of the Ministry of Interior stated that the forced psychiatric evaluation was ordered following complaints of Raisa Radchenko’s anti-social behaviour, in particularly an alleged attack against an employee of local café. Raisa Radchenko has been diagnosed as having an “organic brain damage”. According to independent medical experts, the regional hospital does not have the equipment necessary to establish such a diagnostic.

Front Line Defenders believes that the forced psychiatric treatment of Raisa Radchenko may be in retaliation for her human rights activism. The organisation fears for her physical and psychological integrity, and stresses that the use of enforced psychiatric treatment against human rights defenders is unacceptable.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Ukraine to:

1. Overturn the court order and consequently release Raisa Radchenko from the psychiatric hospital where she is being kept, as Front Line Defenders believes this measure may have been taken solely as a result of her legitimate human rights work and her exercise of the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression;

2. Order an independent medical examination of Raisa Radchenko, and launch an effective and impartial investigation into the circumstances of her hospitalisation and treatment;

3. Immediately take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological safety and integrity of Raisa Radchenko, with a view to effectively meeting her protection needs;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Ukraine are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

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