National Police is not fighting against drug trafficking, but against drug addicts – human rights defenders

Дата: 07 February 2017
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New Ukrainian police continues the tradition of the former militia by concentrating its efforts on the prosecution of addicts, but not drug traffickers.

As stated in the analytical report of the Expert Center for Human Rights titled “Abidance of the rights of vulnerable groups of population in the activity law enforcement bodies”, which was presented on February 7.

According to the report, 74% of the drug-related crimes, which were identified by the police in 2016, are related to illegal production, manufacture, acquisition, possession of drugs without intent to sell (Article 309 of the Criminal Code). At the same time, only 8% of the drug-related crimes are associated with sales. Crimes related to drug trafficking organization represent less than 2%, reported correspondent of the Human Rights Information Centre.

“Law enforcement officers continue imitating the fight against drug trafficking, while pursuing sick people, but not drug traffickers. The majority of drug-related crimes that were registered by the law enforcement officers are related to the possession of drugs without intent to sell it. It is worth adding that in 2016 this trend reached its peak, as in the previous few years, this category of drug-related crimes in the total drug-related crime has been 1.5 times less”, – stated Yuriy Belousov, the Head of the Expert Centre for Human Rights.

Human rights defenders consider that it is not profitable for the policemen to fight against drug trafficking, as it is easier to create such “indicators” using the drug addicts. They, like sex workers, cannot effectively protect themselves from police and are ready to take any crimes on themselves. At the same time drug trafficking continues to flourish and often – under the patronage of police itself. Stereotypes prevailing in society also play negative role.

“Today in society is fixed a stereotype that almost every person who uses drugs or is working in commercial sex is a criminal. The same stereotype is common among police officers. The presence of patterns, the lack of effective control over the communication of police officers with relevant persons, misunderstanding of circumstances by the police officers, due to which person falls within the field of drug addiction and sex business, are the reasons why police officers, while on duty, are occasionally violating rights of vulnerable groups of population”, – notes Kostiantyn Tarasenko, the Head of the Human Rights Office at the National Police of Ukraine.

In the analytical report “Abidance of the rights of vulnerable groups of population in the activity law enforcement bodies” experts examined the causes and consequences of violation of rights of drug addicts and sex workers, as well as described a unique mechanism to prevent the arbitrariness of police – regional groups on combating violations. These groups consist of lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders and representatives of vulnerable groups. They work in six regional centres: Sumy, Lviv, Kropyvnytskyi, Odessa, Dnipro and Kherson. Participants independently collect evidence of violation of human rights in police and help the victims to restore the justice.

“The advantage of regional groups is in the rapid response to the cases of violations of human rights. For those people who very rarely are capable to fend for themselves. For those people who have almost agreed that they “deserve” the illegal and often bold actions on the part of law enforcement bodies. With the agreement of most people, by the way. Human rights must be abided at all times”, – convinced Oleksiy Zagrebelnyi, the representative of the Sumy regional group on combating human rights violations of vulnerable groups.

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