Prisoners Do Not Receive Adequate Medical Care either in Captivity or Afterwards
In illegal prisons in the occupied Donbas, wounded and sick prisoners often do not have access to skilled medical care. In the best case, care is provided by fellow prisoners who are doctors. In the worst case, there is none at all.
This was the conclusion made by the Justice for Peace in Donbas Coalition, which has been monitoring the armed conflict in Donbas since the beginning of 2015.
According to the monitoring data, the wounded and the sick had the opportunity to receive medical care in 69 prisons. At 27 other locations, such opportunity, despite the need and appeals for it, did not exist.
Activists point out that, even then, the medical care was not provided by actual physicians and was usually done at a rather primitive level. Respondents identified the unauthorized persons as a doctor or nurse in only a minority of cases. In most cases, assistance was provided by a physician who was himself a prisoner, other prisoners who were given certain medicines, or separatists that were entrusted with functions of medical staff. In one case, a prisoner doctor even helped himself (to take a bullet out of his leg).
Surgical care was often given in inadequate sanitary conditions.
“Those with fragmental wounds would put dirt into the wound themselves so that it could fester and have the debris come out with the puss. Then they soaked up the puss with toilet paper”, said one of the respondents.
Two respondents noted that they did not receive the drugs sent by their relatives. Only one person noted the full availability of the medicines, the rest spoke about the absence of certain drugs.
Access to a doctor (not prisoner), according to the questionnaires, was provided in 36 cases. Among the respondents, 7 people were hospitalized. In total, 43 prisoners appealed for help. Those who did not seek the doctor, explain that it did not make sense to ask because they considered themselves doomed or did not want to be subjected to beatings.
Medical Problems Remain Even after Captivity.
As Yevheniya Bardyak, MD, notes, people have continued to face difficulties in obtaining adequate medical care after being released from captivity.
First and foremost, this applies to those with civilian status.
While the military and volunteer combatants are examined and receive treatment by the state, and sometimes even in private clinics, for free, volunteers, journalists, pro-Ukrainian local activists, and other people who have been through illegal confinement, face a number of problems.
Rehabilitation centers or responsible agencies that are meant to supervise the former prisoners are not functioning. People are left alone with their problems. In most cases, they seek help on their own at local institutions. For most of the expensive services, they had to pay themselves.
“Those who had no such opportunity put off diagnosis and treatment until ‘better times’, which is extremely undesirable for both health reasons and for the proper collection of harassment evidence”, said Bardyak.
According to her, the range of services in local hospitals and clinics, and medical staff’s experience in recording the results of torture, do not meet the needs of establishing the facts of the crime.
The circumstances in which the harm was inflicted were not mentioned in most medical records. Research institutes gave accurate and detailed findings on the inflicted harm, but only a few people went to these institutions.
Torture can be proven by a forensic medical examination, the conclusions of which are attached to the case. However, this was done in only a few instances.
According to the SBU’s latest data, 3044 people have been released from captivity during the two years of war in Donbas. A large portion of this number is from the civilian population, 1456 people. According to various official sources, more than a hundred prisoners still remain in captivity. 655 of unknown fate are considered missing.