Introducing ID numbers for policemen is the best way to prevent abuse of power – human rights defenders, MPs

Identification numbers should be introduced on national policemen’s uniforms and equipment, they should be easy-to-read and allow identifying policemen. It will be the best way to prevent the incidents of power abuse and human rights violations by law enforcement staff. Human rights defenders and MPs presented respective draft law at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

Experts reminded that the problem of anonymity of law enforcement staff came into the spotlight in the most acute way during the Maidan events. “Anonymity leads to impunity. If the policeman knows that he is not to be identified he acts freely,” emphasized Mykhailo Kamenev, representative of the Human Rights Initiative, former patrol policeman. “Removing impunity is one of priorities. The possibility of identifying a policeman is the best psychological and legal argument,” said Ihor Lutsenko, MP of Batkivshyna faction.

Current situation: badges are not always in place and easy-to-read

Mandatory police badges with ID numbers are stipulated by the new law “On National Police”. However the font size of the ID number is too small. Moreover policemen do not always put the badges on, noted Kamenev. Second issue is that the National Guard servicemen who safeguard public order during public events do not have insignia on them while the risk of incidents is highest there.

Key suggestions

The first suggestion is to make it mandatory for the National Guard to put the badges on when the staff are safeguarding public order. “This should be a temporary measure until the guard is delivering police functions,” noted Mykhailo Lebed, representative of the youth human rights protection group Kharkiv. At the same time it is suggested not to introduce this requirement for National Guard servicemen on duty in the ATO zone for safety reasons. The law will also stipulate that the badge numbers should be easy-to-read not only from close but also from long distance. Individual protection gear – helmets, shields and body armor need to also bear the ID numbers.

The second suggestion is to make sure that the badge ID number is registered with the policeman and is not subject to change. The third suggestion is to make public the online database where citizens will be able to find the name, surname and patronymic of the policeman, his rank and position, apart from the cases stipulated by the law on state secret. “By doing so we will not put policemen and National Guard servicemen under risk, as they will be submitting their asset declarations soon anyway in accordance with the law on corruption prevention. It will be possible to find them all online apart from those protected under the law on state secret,” noted Mykhailo Kamenev.

Authors of the draft law call to join the discussion

“We are ready for the discussion and call upon all interested MPs to become co-authors of the draft law,” noted Kamenev. Mykhailo Lebed said that the document has been already suggested to many experts and activists for consideration and proposals submission. “First thing that we need is to have the highest number possible of signatories – MPs from various factions. Then we expect the letters of support from human rights defenders addressed to the respective parliamentary committee, so that the draft law passes the first reading in the quickest way possible,” he noted.

Vladyslav Vasyuk, expert of LEAD Office, suggested including representatives of the National Guard and of the National Police into the discussion, so that the final decision is welcomed by both human rights defenders and law enforcement staff.

National Guard representative stated that the suggestion of the human rights defenders as to the badges will be taken into consideration for the new National Guard uniforms design. It is still to be approved.