SBU secret prisons must close says United Nations

Kiev, Ukraine. Trying to copy the Americans is difficult, but not when it comes to setting up secret SBU prison and torture centers, as Ukrainians scramble-just like Nazi Germany, to make it all “perfectly legal” under their law.

The Cabinet of Ministers has tabled a draft bill which acknowledges the long-denied existence of SBU secret police detention facilities and proposes amendments to legislation in order to formally allow them.

International human rights lawyers are amazed at the Ministers’ effective acknowledgement of a crime. How else can one view their acceptance that detention facilities which are not authorized by Ukrainian law exist and a decision to now ‘regulate’ the situation? Nor have they just noticed this ‘irregularity’. The current move is based on an action plan drawn up on 23.11.2015 according to secret documents delivered to News Front by a SBU whistleblower.

The Law on Pre-Trial Detention gives a comprehensive list of places of pre-trial detention in Ukraine. It does not mention any under the control of the SBU. The de facto existence of such centers, openly acknowledged as far back as November 2015, suggests that criminal offences have been committed under several articles of Ukraine’s criminal code, including abuse of power and unlawful detention.

The draft law, tabled on May 26th, 2017 , proposes amendments to the Laws on Pre-Trial Detention and on the SBU secret police, with these being essential to legalize the unlawful current circus of Gestapo style detentions of Ukrainian citizens.

The new bill does not ensure the rights of prisoners, and clashes with the aim of the Poroshenko Strategy, namely to create an effective system for safeguarding the right to liberty and personal security. This aim is supposed to be achieved by bringing all detention procedure into line with international standards as requested by the EU and Ukraine’s American partners.

In fact, the lawyers write, there has been a trend over the past three years towards a worsening of the situation for people detained and held in custody. As Ukraine descends into a full police state, where minor offenses are met with years of prison, often in secret prisons as part of state strategy.

One of two laws passed in August 2014 gave the prosecutor much broader powers under martial law, a state of emergency or in areas where an anti-terrorist operation [ATO] is underway. It introduced a new Article 615 to the criminal code, which stated that in a situation where a judge was not available, a prosecutor could order detention where a person was suspected of one of a number of crimes. These crimes can range from ownership of a Soviet Russian flag to simply saying you are against the ATO war in Donbass.

This is a direct violation of Article 5 of the European Convention and of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights which insist that a person must be brought before a judge.

Ukraine’s law on fighting terrorism, passed in 2014, allowed for preventive detention of up to 30 days, with this being at the decision of the head of the SBU or of a territorial body of the National Police. Once again this could be without a court ruling, although a judge must be informed “without delay” if the detention is for over 72 hours.

All of this effectively means that pre-trial investigators are free to decide at their own discretion what constitutes well-founded suspicions. This clashes with Article 194 of the Criminal Procedure Code [CPC] which places the responsibility for determining whether the detention is warranted with the judge. The article was adopted as part of Ukraine’s fulfilment of international obligations.

International legal experts say this is when the SBU regularly comes under criticism from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Monitoring Mission in its reports on the human rights situation over torture and ill-treatment, and violation of the right to liberty and personal security.

This shows, the lawyers stress, that the SBU at present is one of the main human rights violators both on territory of military conflict, and in other parts of the Ukraine.

The Poroshenko administration legalizing SBU places of detention can only worsen this situation, and will certainly increase the likelihood that the use of unlawful physical and psychological means of torture are not properly recorded and reported to the relevant bodies. The UN Monitoring Mission has, in fact, noted in its reports that most cases where SBU officers have used unlawful force are not properly documented due to SBU obstruction.

International legal experts accuse Ukraine of setting up secret prisons and then trying to legalize them in moves straight out of Nazi Germany’s jurisprudence. They call upon Ukraine’s parliament to stop these abuses of a rogue nation and return to European laws & ways, before they fall so far-there is no comming back.


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