Without torture cases don’t get to the court
According to a survey carried out by the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research, together with the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, every 40 seconds a person suffers from unlawful violence at the hands of Ukraine’s police. At a press conference on 9 February Yevhen Zakharov, KHPG Co-Chair and head of the Board of the Ukrainian Helsinki explained that "investigators try to obtain confessions from suspects even where they have irrefutable evidence of the crime, proving guilt…. It’s the Soviet school. Only after getting a confession do they send the case to the court".
Mr Zakharov also pointed out that whereas their studies suggested that between 2005 and 2009 the number of people who were subjected to police violence reached around 1.3 million, just in 2010 alone the number came to 790 thousand. In 2011 it was even worse – 980 thousand. The figures were reached on the basis of a survey of 3 thousand people chosen to be representative of the population as a whole.
He noted that an indirect confirmation of such statistics is given by the frequency with which ambulances are called by the investigators.
One of KHPG’s partner organizations in Kremenchug received the opportunity to see the records and ascertained that in general ambulances had been called twice a day.
Not only have the investigators learned to beat in ways that don’t leave scars, but they also resort to more subtle methods. According to Tetyana Yablonska from Freedom House Ukraine, investigators can, for example, fail to provide any food at all while the person is detained – which can be 72 hours, or not let them go to the toilet.
They identify two main reasons for violence against people detained: demands from management to increase the rate of crimes "solved" and a banal inability to carry out the investigation using lawful methods.
The system of planned indicators for solving crimes which prompts investigators to resort to any methods to get the right statistics has been talked about often over the last 20 years. According to Mykola Yeremenko who once worked in the Soviet MIA, but is now a defence lawyer and human rights activist, the State does nothing to assist in increasing efficiency in investigation bodies’ solving of crimes.
"The police management can only pound their fist on the table and demand an increase in number of crimes solved. And the poor police officer doesn’t have normal special technology, often doesn’t have a car or petrol, but has to "solve the case" or else he could lose his job."
"When we checked police operational investigation cases involving grave and especially grave crimes, we found empty folders. There wasn’t one investigative operation. People were simply pulled into the police, beaten and forced to sign a "confession".
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