Kyiv, June 26, 2015. Most Ukrainians condemn torture and do not trust the Ukrainian judiciary due to inept investigations and lack of feedback regarding such incidents. Two thirds of Ukrainians think that law enforcers torture and ill treatment against prisoners. However, there’s a certain degree of tolerance of torture in Ukraine. “Around 48% of Ukrainians consider unacceptable applying torture to separatists during ATO, while 71% condemn torture outside of the armed conflict,” said Bohdan Ovcharuk, spokesman of Amnesty International in Ukraine during the presentation of the nationwide poll on torture at the press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
According to Tetyana Mazur, Director of Amnesty International in Ukraine, the figures are too small for a democratic society. “It may be the result of the widespread myth that there is no rules during the war. It’s a myth that needs to be refuted not only by watchdogs but politicians as well. There are specific rules of war as well as valid international law and Geneva conventions,” she emphasized, adding that Ukraine must comply with them. Tetyana Mazur also noted that Amnesty International Ukraine registered torture acts in the ATO zone by all sides of the conflict.
As to the public reaction on cases of torture, 72% of interviewed said policemen also have to bear responsibility over it. At the same time 76% consider that the state has to make every effort to hold those guilty accountable for such crimes under any circumstances – whether in the law enforcement agencies, ATO zone or other. “Every third Ukrainian directly or indirectly came across torture, while 4% themselves were tortured, 7% say their family or relatives were subject to torture, 22% – friends or acquaintances,” said Ovcharuk, arguing that such cases show the authorities are incapable of protecting their citizens as well as of implementing both Ukrainian and the international law.
Leaders of states must condemn any acts of torture and other ill treatment, give a clear signal that such behavior is unacceptable though statements that confirm their commitments and effective investigation. Setting up the State Bureau that would investigate illegal conduct of the police should be accelerated and, ultimately, ratify the Rome Statute.
The Nationwide poll on torture was conducted by IFAK Institut research agency commissioned by Amnesty International in Ukraine. Individuals aged 18-65 years old were interviewed on June 10-18.