Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Valeria Lutkovska filed a submission to the Minister of Justice Oleksandr Lavrynovych regarding liquidation of special units in the structure of the State Penitentiary Service according to the press service of the ombudswoman. “In order to ensure the constitutional rights to life, personal integrity, and decent treatment for people incarcerated in penal institutions, take measures to liquidate special armed units in the structure of the State Penitentiary Service until the final decision on legal grounds of their activities will be made,” states the submission.
In an interview for The Day Oleh MARTYNENKO, chairman of the Association of Ukrainian Monitors of Human Rights in Law-Enforcement Institutions, said that filing done by the ombudswoman is quite advanced. “For a long time there were many complaints about abuse of authority by employees of special forces in regime institutions,” said Martynenko. “Now the Penitentiary Service should issue the appropriate order and if it is registered in the Ministry of Justice, we will have a rapid response team in penal institutions with clearly limited powers, objectives, and goals, the way it should be in the uniformed services,” explained Martynenko. However, the expert also noted that in case of inaction of the Penitentiary Service or failure of the Ministry to register the relevant legal act, special forces will be eliminated, despite the fact that, in fact, they should exist.
According to Lutkovska, the problem of operation of the special armed units is that they are not limited in their actions and has not been regulated by any legal act for the past five years. However, this “phenomenon” is not unique. “The Ministry of the Interior, for example, has an inspection agency for the internal structure, which makes the so-called internal investigation. However, the order of its operation was revoked by the Minister Mykola Bilokon (2000-05). Since that time it operates outside the legal field.” Employees of this agency can be fired following the decisions made by this inspection. However, the expert is convinced that most of the layoffs have adequate grounds, even though there are also cases when people working there get fired in the heat of the moment.
In general, the activities of the law-enforcement agencies have many major and peripheral aspects that require intervention, including ones from ombudswoman. Martynenko is convinced that the issue of the notorious police vans is just as urgent. “This police vehicle has not been certified for transportation of people, thus, it is a potential threat to the health and life of detained people that are being transported in them,” stressed Martynenko. According to the expert, chassis and cabin, designed for transporting people, were certified separately, but the whole vehicle has not received a state certificate for transportation.