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Torture persists in Ukraine: UN rapporteur

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, called on the Ukrainian government and representatives of “de facto authorities that control parts of the territory of the state” to establish a monitoring, protection and prosecution system to prevent torture, the organization’s press service said.

“Despite the visible improvement in the recent past, torture and ill-treatment continue to be applied, with impunity, throughout the country, including in areas beyond the control of the government,” said UN Special Rapporteur Nils Melzer at the conclusion of his twelve-day visit to the country.

Meltzer visited various places of detention, met with representatives of government bodies and institutions that deal with human rights, as well as with representatives of civil society, victims of torture and their families.

“I regret to inform you that in all parts of the country my team and I have heard persistent allegations of torture and ill-treatment during the arrest and during interrogation, both from the National Police and the Security Service of Ukraine, and from the security services organized de facto authorities in Donetsk and Lugansk, “he said.

Regardless of the authority in question, the ill-treatment reported was followed by a widespread practice of intimidation, punishment and confessions, for which force was used.

“In addition to threats of sexual violence and insults, the most frequently used methods of torture are allegedly beating with hands, objects and legs, electric shock, strangulation, suspension and imitation of executions, including against 14-year-olds,” the expert said.

While the Government of Ukraine has made significant progress in avoiding unnecessary detention in police custody and ensuring the immediate transfer of detainees to designated places of detention, several detainees reported that torture had been practiced within a few days unofficial places of detention, before the official registration of the time of arrest.

The allegations of torture and ill-treatment are apparently rarely investigated, thus creating a persistent sense of impunity.

“I call on the Ukrainian authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent any possibility of allowing torture and impunity for the use of torture or ill-treatment,” the Special Rapporteur said.

While Melzer welcomes the ongoing reforms of the penitentiary system, conditions in many places of detention remain complex and most of the infrastructure is in dire need of renewal.

With particular concern, the expert noted that children between the ages of 14 and 18 were held in inadequately harsh conditions in the same institutions as adult detainees.

“If the infrastructure of places of detention in general is comparable to those controlled by the Government, the conditions under which I had to make these visits did not allow me to properly assess how people are treated in those places of detention.”

“Any practice of such incommunicado detention is completely incompatible with the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and must be stopped immediately,” the expert said.

The Special Rapporteur reminded all parties in Ukraine of their obligations under both human rights law and international humanitarian law.

“The prohibition of torture and ill-treatment is one of the most fundamental norms of international law and does not allow for any exception under any circumstances,” Melzer said.

“Therefore, systematic and independent monitoring of the proper implementation of this norm throughout Ukraine should be a top priority not only for the government and various de facto authorities, but for the international community as a whole.”

Information taken from: https://strana.ua/news/145660-zajavlenija-o-pytkakh-i-beznakazannosti-v-ukraine-ne-prekrashchajutsja-oon.html