The anti-torture Committee publishes report on Ukraine

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) has published today the report on its visit to Ukraine in November/December 2002, together with the response of the Ukrainian Government. These documents have been made public with the agreement of the Ukrainian authorities.
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In its report, the CPT emphasises that it cannot modify the conclusion it had reached in the past, that persons deprived of their liberty by the Militia run a significant risk of being ill-treated at the time of their apprehension and/or in custody, particularly when being questioned. Several recommendations are made, including one with a view to issuing directives to encourage public prosecutors to adopt a much more proactive approach in combating ill-treatment. In their response, the authorities refer to certain measures, including an assessment of the causes of human rights violations, the obligation for those responsible for the operational units of the Militia to carry out regular inspections, and a pilot project aimed at improving the professional and psychological selection of candidates to be employed by the police.

The material conditions in which persons are detained by law enforcement agencies leave a great deal to be desired. Concerning more particularly Militia central holding facilities (ITTs), the CPT calls upon all governmental agencies concerned to provide support, including of a financial nature, to the efforts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to improve the conditions of detention. In this context, it recommends that a high priority be given to the swift removal of all shutters on cell windows in ITTs throughout the country, and to the creation of exercise yards. The response of the authorities enumerates several measures on this point; in particular, that 84.5% of these facilities are currently equipped with exercise yards.

The CPT severely criticises the conditions of detention of foreign nationals detained under aliens legislation. It recommends that sufficient financial resources be allocated to the agencies responsible for the centres for foreign nationals to meet the detained persons' basic needs (sufficient food, adequate bedding and appropriate clothing). The Ukrainian authorities indicate that funds have been allocated to equip and renovate the detention centres, as well as to build new ones.

With regard to penitentiary establishments, the CPT welcomes the measures taken to reduce overcrowding and improve material conditions. However, in the face of the still-rampant overcrowding in the SIZOs, it stresses that the highest priority should be to ensure that detention on remand is used only exceptionally and for the minimum duration compatible with the interests of justice. The authorities make reference to concerted efforts of the Department for the Execution of Sentences, the Prosecutor General's Office, the Supreme Court, and regional instances, which have enabled a decrease in the number of prisoners held in pre-trial establishments.

The CPT's visit report and the response of the Ukrainian authorities are available on the Committee's website: