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What civil society expects from the National Police – Expert discussion

Kyiv, March 01, 2017.

Traffic safety, respect of human rights, and independence of the National Police from the Ministry of Internal Affairs are among the expectations from the police put forward by the civil society for the current year. Experts debated the priorities of developments in law enforcement during a discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Staffing

All the posts need to be filled in through open competition, while talented patrol policemen need to have a chance of career growth. “Representing new values they are able to start the reform from inside, to change the units of the National Police which the reform has unfortunately not reached yet. I am speaking of criminal police, first of all” said Borys Malyshev, legal expert.

In a similar way, the Head of the National Police needs to become independent from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, including in staffing. “If Mr. Knyazev [recently appointed Head of the National Police] actually intends to make change, we are ready to help him. We demand his procedural independence from leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is very important for investigation of crimes. Secondly, there has to be independence from the Ministry of Internal Affairs in staffing decisions. We are ready to sit and work together to contest the governmental orders as to the appointment of department heads. It is what Dekanoidze [former Head of the National Police] was bothered by. Thirdly, systematic corruption needs to be eliminated,” said Oleksiy Hrytsenko, representative of Automaidan civic initiative.

Cooperation with civil society

Expert representatives of civil society can be involved both at the legislative level and when implementing the laws. According to Vladyslav Vlasyuk, co-founder of the civic initiative “LEAD office” such cooperation needs to focus on the problematic practical issues that require a solution. Cooperation between patrol policemen and the PITBULL KIEV NGO is an example. They team up to catch drunk drivers across Ukraine. “First of all drivers need to have more trust in patrol policemen. Drivers often behave incorrectly and policemen get to face these provocations. There needs to be a certain actor wgo would be constantly doing this, engaging society into cooperation with patrol police, and would improve communication,” said Oleksiy Pavlovsky, founder and head of NGO PITBULL KIEV.

Safety on the road

Among the first-hand tasks for police is the speed, safety belts and drivers’ diverting their attention to communication means. “One of the key demands is to start control and launch the system of automatic registration. According to the international practice only after the system is introduced the number of road accidents with casualties decreases by 17-20 per cent, while the general number of road accidents decreases by 10 per cent,” said Olesya Kholopik, senior project manager at the Center for Democracy and Rule of Law, coordinator of the campaign “For safe roads”. While the reform is yet to come, experts call upon the police to be measuring the speed in any possible way. “We call upon the patrol police to measure the speed with any means available: it might be even a handheld radar speed gun, half-automated devices etc. The fact that drivers know that someone is measuring their speed will already have a restraining effect,” said Viktor Zahreba, coordinator of the NGO Vision Zero.

According to the experts, last year’s numbers on the road accidents casualties is considerably underreported. “National police are underreporting numbers by 20-50 per cent. How is it possible to fail to count the number of lethal casualties in road accidents? The expectation number one is that the head of the National Police will make things clear also with the departments that are finger-pointing at each other. Give us quality, reliable and open data on road accidents,” Zahreba called.

Human rights

According to the international ranking Ukraine is a Tier 2 country in the human trafficking classification. However it risks downgrading into the last, Tier 3 category. It might considerably worsen its prospects of cooperation with international donors in law enforcement. “National Police lacks quality coordination with other actors, mostly with the Prosecutor’s Office and with courts. It is also about mutual trust. Police and the Prosecutor’s Office are finger-pointing at each other. Police say that the prosecutors are creating obstacles for the case they work on, while the Prosecutor’s Office complains the police fail to collect the materials they require to investigate the case,” Vladyslav Vasyuk said.

During peaceful rallies police is often in a good contact with protesters. Experts give positive feedback on involvement of women into the process, it helps decrease tension. “However, there is a series of violations we face constantly, unfortunately, they have not been addressed yet. For example, during the clashes near the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) in August 2015 police was unable to identify aggressive individuals in the crowd. And so they exceeded the overall level of physical violence,” said Ksenia Shymanska of the Center for Civic Liberties, OZON group of civic monitoring. She also reminded that police cannot limit peaceful assemblies with no grounds irrespective of political views of its participants.

Civil society also expect that the National Police will investigate the crimes committed against Maidan and that the guilty will be held responsible. “We demand that the policemen involved in the Maidan crimes are fired. They are still at their posts including former Berkut staff. These people have violated the law, but remain in the office and enjoy impunity,” Oleksiy Hrytsenko said.

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