Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union continues implementation of the program of monitoring visits to the penitentiary establishments of Ukraine, one of the tasks of which is monitoring of the detention conditions of people living with HIV.
On June 11, 2019 the UHHRU monitors visited State Establishment “Boryspil Penitentiary Establishment No 119” and “Cherkassy Penitentiary Establishment No 62”. On June 12 Bila Tserkva Penitentiary Establishment No 35”.
During the last monitoring visit, UHHRU Executive Director Oleksandr Pavlichenko and coordinator of the network of public reception offices Natalia Kozarenko were accompanied by Magnolia TV production team.
The video report is provided at the link.
In each penitentiary establishment the monitors checked the provision of the medical assistance, the living conditions and conditions of work of the convicts.
In all penitentiary establishments the convicts with HIV/AIDS, receiving anti-retroviral therapy, are registered for regular medical checkup. However, as stated by the medical director of Boryspil penitentiary establishment, a lot of convicts refused to take tests, which was a voluntary procedure, and he suspected that there were several fold more PL HIV among the convicts. The same situation is also in Cherkassy penitentiary establishment.
Only in Bila Tserkva penitentiary establishment the situation is different – there were no cases when the convicts refused to take tests. Illustrative is the fact that this penitentiary establishment cooperates with charitable organization “100% Life”, which carries out awareness raising campaigns and provides medicines in case of need.
But the visit to the medical unit of Bila Tserkva penitentiary establishment detected other problems. During the discussion with the Head of the medical unit Shramenko Mykola Vasylyovych, the latter pointed out urgent problems related to the organization of medical assistance provision:
- Civilian city hospital does not want to provide assistance to the convicts. The example was provided of the convict who was refused in setting catheter instead of the one that fallen out. They had to file the complaint with the Prosecutors Office because of that.
- The city hospital No 2 refuses to undertake surgeries for the convicts with HIV.
It should be mentioned that all penitentiary establishments are fully supplied with tests for HIV, the quantity of medicines and the salaries of healthcare staff significantly increased for the last year. But the reform did not take into account the specifics of medical assistance provision in the penitentiary establishments – the right for the privileged retirement was removed. This seriously complicated solving of the major problem – chronic lack of the medical staff.
Coordinator of UHHRU network of public reception offices Natalia Kozarenko: “Lack of administrative staff in the penitentiary establishments is a huge problem. In some cases, it amounts to 30%. Though in 2018 the level of lack of staff decreased significantly. For example, in Bila Tserkva penitentiary establishment they started employing women for the security department. Women also work there in the medical unit (33% of the doctors are women).
But the issue of staffing remains problematic. There is no comprehensive approach to solving the staffing issues. Salary increases do not solve the problem. One of the reasons is the absence of the opportunity to buy housing or receive it from the state. There are no state crediting programs”.
Other systemic issue is the terrible situation with convicts’ passportization.
UHHRU Executive Director Oleksandr Pavlichenko: “The issues encountered by the staff of the penitentiary establishments still includes the issue of receiving or renewal of a passport by the convicts. Because of the absence of the passports the convicts cannot be employed, and after being released from the prison cannot socialize in the society. There are cases when the convicts were released without passports (only having the certificate of release).
About 60% of persons staying in the penitentiary establishments do not have passports in their files. A passport can be taken away by the policemen at time of arrest, can be left in courts’ archives or with relatives. Often, persons getting into the penitentiary establishments never ever had passports.
If it is not possible to receive a passport, it is renewed through State Migration Service. But convicts cannot provide documents necessary for receiving the duplicate passport, there is also the problem with paying the public levy, not all convicts can pay it, and absence of the documents does not allow to get official employment at the production facilities and to get remuneration for that”.
Recommendations of UHHRU monitors:
- During repairs to take into account the compliance with the principles of the human rights protection, to plan gradual move of the penitentiary establishments to the bunk room system of convicts’ accommodation replacing two-tiers beds.
- More actively establish cooperation with the Free Legal Support (FLS) system, use the FLS lawyers, in particular for receiving necessary documents for convicts’ passportization.
- To staff medical units, to involve women more actively, to use the experience of Bila Tserkva Penitentiary Establishment – 35.
- Strengthen provision of relevant medical assistance to convicts. Bring the issues regarding cooperation with the local hospitals to consideration of the oblast supervisory council, to apply to MoH, to organize the discussion of the issues at the round tables involving citizens.
Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union implements the project “Development of the legal network for protection of the people living with HIV/AIDS, representatives of key PLHIV communities and persons ill with TB” with the financial support of the Charitable organization “All-Ukrainian Network of the People Living with HIV/AIDS” in the framework of implementation of the project “Releasing the Burden of TB and HIV infection through creation of the open access to timely and quality diagnostics and treatment of the TB and its resistant forms, expanding evidence based prevention, diagnostic and treatment of HIV infection, and creation of stable and sustainable health protection systems”, which is implemented with the financial support of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.