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Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture, Ukraine, U.N. Doc. A/48/44, paras. 116-132 (1993).



Convention Abbreviation: CAT


Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture


116. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Ukraine (CAT/C/17/Add.4) at its 125th meeting, on 12 November 1992 (see CAT/C/SR.125).

117. In introducing the report, the representative of the State party pointed out that an act on the validity of international agreements in Ukrainian territory had been promulgated on 10 December 1991 and that international agreements ratified by Ukraine formed an integral part of national law. He then referred to the changes taking place in Ukraine, which had started with the proclamation of its independence on 24 August 1991. Generally, it had been decided that the laws in force under the previous regime would be maintained if they were compatible with the new Constitution of Ukraine which was being drafted. In particular, considerable attention was being given to reducing the number of offences punishable by the death penalty and to including a definition of torture in the new codes which were being prepared. The reform of the judiciary had not yet been completed, but legal measures were under consideration to guarantee the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary. In addition, the new Supreme Soviet of Ukraine had set up three Commissions. The first dealt with legislative activities, the second with questions of public order and the third was a human rights commission which considered complaints submitted to it. The authorities also planned to set up a new human rights institute which would be responsible for monitoring the implementation of the relevant legislation. Finally, the representative provided some information on the judicial bodies existing in Ukraine and stated that his Government was actively working on the democratization and modernization of the Ukrainian legal system.

118. Members of the Committee were of the view that the current circumstances and changes in Ukraine made it impossible to judge the results achieved and to assess how the Convention was actually implemented in that country. Perhaps a new report was needed. Furthermore, the report under consideration did not follow the Committee's general guidelines for the preparation of reports and did not refer to any specific decision or provision taken to give effect to each of the articles of the Convention; it set forth principles and said nothing about their practical implementation. No information had been provided, in particular, on measures taken in Ukraine to implement articles 3 and 5 to 15 of the Convention.

119. Members of the Committee also observed that some provisions of the Convention were reflected in national legislation but not all, and wished to know what measures were being taken to incorporate the provisions of the Convention into internal law and whether the Convention could be invoked before a court. In addition, they asked whether the public and, in particular, the convicted prisoners and detainees were informed about the Convention, what the cases were in which human rights and freedoms could be restricted, as referred to in the Act on criminal investigation activities, and what legal grounds existed for those restrictions. Further information was requested on the amendments which had been made to existing legislation, and on law enforcement. The text of the legislation mentioned in the report was also requested.

120. In connection with article 2 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know, in particular, what the maximum length of pre-trial detention was, at what stage the lawyer was brought in to assist the accused person, and whether the rules governing arrest and detention applied equally to the ordinary police, the State security forces and the armed forces.

121. With reference to articles 1 and 4 of the Convention, members of the Committee wished to know whether the existing Ukrainian Penal Code gave a definition of torture, what the penalties were for public officials who violated the Convention, and whether there were any cases of torture in Ukraine.

122. With regard to articles 6 and 7 of the Convention, it was asked whether there was an immigration act in Ukraine, whether ordinary criminals and military personnel found guilty of a crime were subject to the same rules and regulations and what happened to convicted prisoners who served their sentence in another State.

123. Referring to article 10 of the Convention, members of the Committee requested information on measures taken for the training of public officials about matters relating to torture and its prohibition.

124. In his reply, the representative of Ukraine, referring to the difficult transitional period of his country, stressed that three different governments had been formed in less than one year and in such circumstances a government had no time to adopt legislation aimed at providing solutions to the problems which had been mentioned. In particular, the new codes to which reference had been made during the discussion did not yet exist. In view of the complexity of the situation, it would be very difficult, therefore, to provide supplementary information, apart from the specific information on changes which had just been reported.

125. Referring to questions of a general nature raised by the members of the Committee, the representative stated that in Ukraine the provisions of international treaties had force of law without having to be incorporated into the legislation, except in cases where implementation machinery had to be established. For example, the Convention against Torture provided for compensation to be paid to victims for injury or damage they had suffered. In that case, specific legislation had been enacted to compensate, in particular, victims of political repression. The representative also stressed that the independence of the judiciary was a guarantee against torture and confessions obtained by force and, in his view, the adoption of an act on the judiciary providing for such independence was the most important measure to be taken at present in his country. With regard to cases of restriction on the exercise of human rights, he said that, in the past, cases of restriction were kept secret, while, at present, they were established by law. For example, it was known in which cases telephone listening devices could be used and when correspondence could be opened.

126. Referring to article 2 of the Convention, the representative explained that an individual could be held in pre-trial detention for three hours but, if there were grounds for believing that he would be accused of a crime and it was necessary to hold him longer, he could be held for three days, provided that, during the first 24 hours, the procurator had been notified of his arrest and had made sure that it had been carried out in conformity with the law. The accused could have access to a lawyer after three days and once he had been charged; that was the general rule, whether the person had been detained by the police, the army or the security forces. However, in practice, that was still not the case. The representative pointed out that, not long before, the maximum period of pre-trial detention in Ukraine could be extended by the procurator of the Union for up to one and a half years.

127. With regard to article 4 of the Convention, the representative provided figures on proceedings instituted in the last three years against public officials and members of the police force. Those figures showed that legal action had been taken against 1,567 officials in 1990, 438 in 1991 and 1,002 in 1992. He also provided additional information on the four crimes which were punishable by the death penalty under the Ukrainian Penal Code and underlined that under the Soviet Code 37 crimes had been made punishable by the death penalty.

128. With reference to articles 6 and 7 of the Convention, the representative stated that the rules applied to extradition had not yet been changed but, in his view, appropriate provisions on extradition would be included in the new Constitution.

129. With regard to article 10 of the Convention, the representative indicated that a special training institute for public officials was to be set up in Ukraine to ensure that all Government departments had competent managerial staff. The training of psychologists who would be sent to work in penal establishments would include the study of international human rights instruments and the legislation on the implementation of the Convention against Torture, in particular.

Conclusions and recommendations

130. The Committee thanked the Government of Ukraine for having submitted its second periodic report on time. It took note, in particular, of the part of the report dealing with the laws and other measures introduced to ensure respect for human rights in general and the application of the Convention in particular.

131. The Committee also noted that the second periodic report of Ukraine was not fully in accordance with the general guidelines regarding the form and contents of periodic reports and recommended that the next periodic report should describe in detail the measures planned or taken with a view to the application of the provisions of the Convention, and would appreciate it if legislative texts of interest, such as the Constitution, codes and new laws, could be transmitted as soon as they had been drawn up to the Secretariat for communication to the Committee against Torture. The Committee expressed the view that, within approximately two years, the desirability of requesting an additional report from Ukraine should be considered.

132. In addition, the Committee expressed the hope that the Supreme Council and Government of Ukraine would take all necessary steps to ensure application of the provisions and respect for the requirements of the Convention.


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