Amnesty International on Thursday called on the Ukrainian government to investigate police abuses [report; press release] and strengthen mechanisms to hold police accountable for brutality and torture. In a report, AI alleged that reports of police abuse and torture have been widely ignored. The rights group encouraged the Ukrainian government to take advantage of its new penal code, approved last year, which affords more rights to the accused and suggests the creation of a commission to investigate allegations of police brutality. AI's report stated that out of 114,474 reports of police abuse in 2012, only 1,750 were investigated, and less than 500 were subsequently prosecuted. AI called on the Ukrainian government to create an independent commission to investigate allegations of police abuses and to hold officers accountable for misconduct.
The Ukraine has faced worldwide criticism for its handling of the criminal trials of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko [JURIST news archive] and her supporters. Although Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych pardoned [JURIST report] a former interior minister and a close ally of Tymoshenko earlier this month, Tymoshenko remains in prison facing numerous charges. Critics have labeled these cases as an attempt for Yanukovych to control his opposition. In February Tymoshenko was fined USD $2,000 for contempt [JURIST report] of court after a hearing in Kiev. In January the state began investigating her lawyer [JURIST report] for several criminal charges. Tymoshenko has already been sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges and is currently awaiting trial on charges of tax evasion [JURIST reports]. In September the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed [JURIST report] a resolution calling for Ukraine to release Tymoshenko from prison. Last July, the European Court of Human Rights ruled unanimously [JURIST report] that the arrest and detention of Lutsenko violated the European Convention on Human Rights.