UKRAINE MUST ACT TO DEAL WITH ENDEMIC POLICE CRIMINALITY

12.10.11


Amnesty International

Just when Ukrainians all over the world thought that international opinion about Ukraine had reached rock bottom, the nation is shamed once again by an Amnesty International report released today which reveals widespread police criminality.

No evidence of a crime: Paying the price for police impunity in Ukraine, reveals how police are rarely punished for abusing their powers because of high levels of corruption, non-existent or flawed investigations, harassment and intimidation of complainants, and a low level of prosecutions.

“Twenty years after the demise of the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian police are still serving the state instead of the public. Ordinary Ukrainians are paying the price, many of whom have become victims of bribery and forced confessions,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s expert on Ukraine.

“It is high time the Ukrainian authorities set up an independent agency to investigate all allegations against police officers and tackled the culture of impunity and corruption that prevails.”

According to some estimates, there are hundreds of thousands of instances of police abuses: corruption, with bribes being taken to secure the release of detainees, beatings and torture in police custody, racism, and unexplained deaths in custody - the majority of which are not effectively investigated. Amnesty International's full report includes detailed case studies which make for harrowing reading. The report concludes that there is a significant gap between the government's stated position on human and social rights and the rule of law, and the reality - and that this gap must be bridged urgently.

Amnesty International believes that the best way to ensure this is to set up a fully resourced independent agency to investigate all allegations against police officers. Ukraine must ensure that witnesses are protected from harassment and in all cases where police officers are under investigation for serious human rights violations, that they are suspended for the duration of the investigation.

Police officers responsible for torture or other ill-treatment must be held accountable through disciplinary and criminal proceedings.

“The Ukrainian police must work hard for the public to regain their trust in them – do to this they must change the nature of their relationship from confrontation to partnership,” Heather McGill said.

Ukrainians everywhere will be asking whether the current government can be trusted to take the action needed to raise standards of human and social rights to the level expected from a modern European democracy. In the light of recent events, confidence cannot be high




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