17:11 06.06.2018

Ukraine may be left without national preventive mechanism – human rights activists

2 min read

KYIV. June 6 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Ukraine may lose its only independent mechanism to prevent torture – the National Preventive Mechanism, which has operated in Ukraine since 2012 in the ombudsman+ format.

The executive director of the Expert Center for Human Rights, former head of the department of the national preventive mechanism in the office of the Verkhovna Rada human rights commissioner, Yuriy Bilousov, said at a press conference at the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Wednesday that within the framework of this format, Ombudsman office representatives and community activists monitored compliance previously.

"In 2012, in the structure of the Ombudsman's office, a separate unit was created. We studied the experience of many European countries. For six years we visited about 6,000 institutions that a person cannot leave at will - prisons, child's homes, psycho-neurological boarding schools and mental hospitals During this time, we carried out about 1,500 monitoring visits and reported annually to the public," he said.

Bilousov noted that thanks to the National Preventive Mechanism, the society learned about the problems that exist in such places.

"But now there is a risk that about 1 million people will remain alone with the heads of such institutions," he said.

"This year, after the election of a new ombudsman, Denisova, we had several meetings with her during the first days, during which we were informed about our work, goals, methodology." She assured us that there would be no attempts to break down the work of the department. The situation changed over the last month, the department was completely reorganized and about 30% of employees left. Participation of public organizations in monitoring visits was completely blocked," Bilousov said.

According to him, for today organizations that were involved in the introduction of the NPM in Ukraine have decided to unite in a coalition, and intend to work out alternative approaches to monitoring places of lack of freedom.

"If the ombudsman's office wants to cooperate with us, we will be open to cooperation, both with public organizations and state bodies. If not, we will work in our direction. But I want to emphasize that people who are in places of lack of freedom, should not depend on the decision of one person," Bilousov said.

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