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Ukrainian prisoners savagely beaten after complaining of torture

Time:2020-01-16 13:03Underwear site information Click:

prisonerstortureUkraine Oleksiivska prisoners25Kharkiv

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group lawyers and monitors have been blocked from entering Oleksiivska Correctional Colony No. 25 in Kharkiv since a believed punitive operation on 8 January against prisoners who had complained of torture.  The accounts of torture, and the prison’s reaction are so shocking that a criminal investigation is now underway, however it is imperative that the prisoners are allowed to see, and be questioned, in the presence of their lawyers.  The State Penitentiary Service is claiming that the events on 8 January were aimed at suppressing an imminent revolt by prisoners, however the brutal operation, and the removal to other prisons of several prisoners came after a number of prisoners gave consistent and harrowing accounts of ill-treatment and torture to KHPG lawyers and other representatives.

KHPG Director Yevhen Zakharov gave a detailed account on 11 January 2020 of the prisoners’ allegations and the subsequent reaction by a Penitentiary Service ‘spetsnaz’ unit. 

While the Penitentiary Service has tried to present Oleksiivska No. 25 as a model prison, this is not the impression given by prisoners and those who have had dealings with it.  Zakharov explains that “the least signs of disagreement with anything are punished by brutal torture.  Here you can’t complain about anything. There is total dependence on the prison administration; hard draining work in two shifts, and sometimes even the entire 24 hours without a break leading to total exhaustion. However the main thing that was hard for the prisoners to endure were the constant ill-treatment that became the norm”.

Oleksiivska No. 25 is also a record-breaker for the number of times that a notorious article of the criminal code has been used against prisoners.  As reported, Article 391 enables the prison administration to bring criminal charges against a prisoner over essentially minor infringements.  Since such criminal charges can be used to increase a prisoner’s sentence by up to 3 years, it is easily abused by prison staff, for example, against prisoners who complain of ill-treatment.

Serious concerns about Oleksiivska No. 25 have been raised on many occasions, including by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

Zakharov explains that at the beginning of December last year, the State Bureau of Investigations brought criminal charges against one of the deputy heads of the prison.  He is accused of abuse of power over corrupt dealings involving the resale of food items purchased with state funding for the prison.  The individual has been remanded in custody.

KHPG lawyer Volodymyr Hlushchenko and other monitors visited the prison on 6 December and, as usual, heard no complaints. They were aware that somebody had run ahead of them, clearly to prepare the way, before they reached the medical unit, and reported that most of the men pretended to be asleep.

It was also learned from a source in the prison, Zakharov notes, that at the end of  December the head of the prison himself was informed that he was under suspicion of a crime.  He has been suspended with his first deputy standing in as Acting Head.

It is possible that these changes gave men who are normally too terrorized to speak out some confidence, or on the contrary made them fear that the situation would become even worse.

Whatever the reason, when KHPG lawyer Hennady Tokarev visited the prison on 2 January to speak with his client, he learned that a number of prisoners wished to make complaints about the illegal activities of the prison administration. He therefore arrived back the following day, with colleagues Volodymyr Hlushchenko and Tamila Bespala.  They had time only to speak with 21 of the prisoners and to receive written complaints from them.  They promised to come back after Orthodox Christmas, although that proved impossible because of the actions of the prison administration.

Brief details of the men’s complaints are translated below and suggest that the men have been subjected to a shocking level of ill-treatment and, in many cases, torture. Nor is this all since the men are alleging that the ill-treatment was aimed at extorting money out of their families.

Zakharov summarized the men’s allegations as follows. 

“Most of the prisoners alleged various forms of harsh treatment, with these often reaching the level of torture. They were beaten on various parts of the body, bound with scotch tape to their bed; stretched in splits position; asphyxiated through a bag being placed over their heads; subjected to electric shocks, etc.

Prisoner M. was beaten and kicked over his whole body.  They twisted his arms, bound both arms and legs with scotch tape and a belt to a stool so that he could hardly breathe.  He was bound with scotch on the head and had a gag placed in his mouth, had two hats placed on his head and was held in this position for seven days. He was not given any food during that time, only tea.  He was forced to sit in his own urine and faeces, with this making his legs and buttocks get infected.  When they untied him, there were a whole of worms eating the dead flesh in those places. After that M. was told that if he told anybody about this, he would die of heart failure in the prison.

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