There were reports of torture and other ill-treatment in prisons and police custody. Prisoners and criminal suspects received inadequate medical care. Human rights defenders were physically attacked and faced harassment from law enforcement officers. Refugees and asylum-seekers were threatened with forcible return and other human rights violations. Police discriminated against ethnic minorities and peaceful demonstrators were detained and subjected to violence.
Allegations continued of torture and other ill-treatment in police custody. In March, the Human Rights Department within the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which had monitored police detention, was closed. It was replaced with a smaller division without a monitoring remit.
On 1 July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a group of prisoners had been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment when they were beaten in Zamkova Prison in Khmelnitskiy region in two separate incidents in 2001 and 2002. The beatings took place during a training programme for the Rapid Reaction Unit, a special group of prison guards called in to deal with unrest in prisons.
In January, the Deputy Head of the Department for the execution of sentences stated that health facilities in prisons were underfunded. Prisoners were not allowed out of prison for medical treatment outside the prison system.
The work of human rights defenders and human rights NGOs was made more difficult as they faced obstruction in the courts and physical attacks. At least three human rights defenders were targeted in relation to their legitimate human rights work.
Asylum-seekers in Ukraine continued to be at risk of arbitrary detention, racism and extortion at the hands of the police and return to countries where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations. An inadequate asylum system left them unprotected.
In January, the EU-Ukraine Readmission Agreement came into force for third country nationals. According to the agreement, EU states can return irregular migrants to Ukraine providing they entered the EU via Ukraine. According to the International Organization for Migration, between January and July, 590 people were returned according to the terms of the Readmission Agreement. There were reports of migrants being beaten or otherwise ill-treated while in detention. Furthermore, although the Readmission Agreement is intended to apply to “illegal aliens”, asylum-seekers were reportedly among those returned.
Police continued to apprehend and detain people because of the colour of their skin.
Demonstrators described how the police stood by while the guards beat protesters and journalists without intervening. On 28 May, between 10 and 12 people were detained for approximately eight hours by the police before being brought before a judge. Andrei Yevarnitsky and Denis Chernega were sentenced to 15 days’ detention on 9 June for “malicious refusal to obey a law enforcement officer”, although video footage of the events shows the demonstrators leaving with police officers peacefully.Top of page