Ukraine: guards and prisoners victims of an outdated system
The prosecutor’s office informed, on the 17th of August, that a detainee had killed and dismembered an inspector from the State Prison Service at the Odessa Pre-trial Detention Center (SIZO) No. 21. The murder occurred in the SIZO economic block where the prisoner was working.
Several detainees’ relatives demonstrated, on the 19th, in front of the SIZO. They stated that "repression has started" against the prisoners after the murder of the inspector.
The next day, unknown persons wearing masks entered the prison and beated the prisoners in Colonies No. 21 and also 51, located in Odessa as well. Dmitry Krasnobayev, priest of the SIZO chapel, wrote on his Facebook page that “special forces beat prisoners”. Several detainees’ relatives demonstrated, on the 19th, in front of the SIZO. They stated that “repression has started” against the prisoners after the murder of the inspector. “We are worried about the lives and health of our loved ones. We demand explanations from the administration and the prosecutor, “said Sergei, one of the demonstrators.
Five days after the murder, the Odessa prosecutor’s office declared that the employees of the two SIZOs were being investigated for abuse of power, negligence and torture of prisoners.
The Vice-Minister of Justice commented, on the 23rd, the 20 incidents that took place in the detention centers during this year. He denounced the low salaries that prevent the recruitment of the necessary staff. Ombudswoman, Valery Lutkovsky, documented the beatings. The Odessa district prosecutor stated, on the 27th, that he was investigating the ill-treatment of prisoners in the two SIZOs.
##### *People dressed in sports clothes enter the colony and beat the prisoners.*
Most prison guards positions are occupied by women, even in male prisons, because it is a low-paid job that only men can afford to refuse.
What seemed at first to be an isolated case, reveals, through this cycle of violence, the malfunctions of the Ukrainian penitentiary system.
Ukraine Without Torture, Prison Insider’s correspondent in Ukraine, explains that the conditions of detention are extremely harsh.
Prisoners do not have access to water in settlements 21 and 51. They must manage their drug dependency by themsef, without any professional counseiling, even though for many this was the reason they were imprisonned in the first place. The prison staff of Colonies 21 and 51 know that prisoners hide drugs and alcohol in their cells. After their colleague was murdered, they used this as an excuse to organize a cell search and beat them.
For the Ministry of Justice, the main cause for poor prison conditions and working conditions for staff is the lack of funding. According to the prosecutor’s office, it is a lack of compliance with the security rules. In the eyes of our correspondent, the problem is deeper than that. Most prison guards positions are occupied by women, even in male prisons, because it is a low-paid job that only men can afford to refuse.
Staff are not trained on the respect of human rights or basic safety rules.
The prisoner accused of murdering the inspector of the State Prison Service had acces to several tools, including an axe, while at work. Ukraine Without Torture stresses the need to thoroughly reform this obsolete penitentiary system inherited from the Soviet era: what happened in Odessa could happen in any other colony of the country.