Today, June 26, the whole world will remember the victims of torture and ill-treatment. In Ukraine, this figure, according to human rights organizations, reaches more than 50 thousand cases per year. However, no one really knows the real scale of the problem.

And there are several reasons for this. One in three Ukrainians tolerates torture, believing violence to be permissible “in some cases”, and thinks it will never happen to them. But recent events in Kaharlyk, the Svitanok orphanage, the Berdyansk and Oleksiyivka penal colonies have shown that torture can affect anyone.

“On the one hand, government programs are not working well and the situation with torture on the ground remains glaring. On the other hand, it is very unfortunate that Ukraine has not yet ratified the Istanbul Protocol. This is an international list of tools for documenting the consequences of torture, which would provide evidence in court, facilitate the effective investigation and prosecution of perpetrators,” said Dmytro Reva, director of the SICH Human Rights Group.

Already in July, Ukraine will report to the UN Committee against Torture on how it fulfills the terms of the Convention.

Torture in Donbas

The war in the Donbas significantly worsened the situation, and the dominance of Russian mercenaries covered the country with a wave of violence. In particular, the captives, of whom there are more than 3,000 in Ukraine, suffered from torture, which can safely be called medieval. Hundreds of citizens are still held captive, subjected to torture and inhuman treatment.

The investigation of torture also remains a problem, as most cases do not qualify as torture under Article 127. CC, and for Art. 146 – as an excess of power and official authority, which provides for less punishment and is not true. The UN Committee recommended that Ukraine finalize Article 127 and expand the list of tortures. But this did not happen. If we talk about psychological torture and its consequences – this is an unresolved problem not only in Ukraine but also around the world.

“One of the reasons is our recent totalitarian past. We, humans, are so arranged that when we live in a reality in which we are tortured, tortured, beaten, humiliated, and deprived of our dignity, we are forced to adapt to the abnormal situation and begin to tolerate torture, which then becomes the “norm”. For example, we are used to humiliation in state institutions,” said Olena Podolyan, a psychotherapist and director of the Forpost NGO.

In turn, the head of the NGO “MARTIN-Club” Victoria Fedotova stressed the so-called “institutional torture” of children. These are closed institutions where children are abused and tortured.

“Torture is suffering from which you cannot get out. This is suffering that is locked inside the system and you just can’t get rid of it. If we consider children’s homes as places of torture rather than places of care, we can see that the child has vital needs after he or she is born. The vital need to be close to a loved one. This person should always be near the child. In orphanages, newborns are moved to a closed system, placed in a box, and not approached during the day. That is, just feed and go. There is no alleged physical torture, but being in such conditions leads to irreparable damage to the human psyche,” Fedotova said.

And a few numbers. Of the more than 50,000 cases of torture, investigators open just over 150 criminal cases each year. Only a few dozen cases go to court, but only a few receive real sentences. Hence the total impunity and prosperity of torture in Ukraine.

Olga Volynska

Natalia Tolub

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