“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”Mahatma Mohandas Gandhi
URGENT ACTION APPEAL
- From Amnesty International USA
3 November 2010
UA 232/10 - Risk of forced psychiatric treatment
UKRAINE Andrei Bondarenko (m) trade union activist
On 29 October, Andrei Bondarenko, a trade union activist was ordered to undergo a forced psychiatric examination by a court in Vinnytsya, south west Ukraine. He is in hiding and fears that he will be subjected to psychiatric treatment because of his legitimate trade union and human rights activities. Andrei Bondarenko has no record of mental illness and has undergone three psychiatric examinations to prove his sanity, the most recent of which was in October 2010. Among the reasons quoted by prosecutors for him to be examined is his “excessive awareness of his own and others’ rights and his uncontrollable readiness to defend these rights in unrealistic ways.”
In 2007, the Vinnytsya Prosecutor’s Office twice asked local health authority officials in Vinnytsya to request forced psychiatric examinations. The first request was turned down by a judge in July on the basis that the hospital had not formulated the request correctly. The second request was turned down in August after Andrei Bondarenko went to a psychiatrist in Vinnytsya regional hospital and presented a certificate stating that he was sane.
In January 2009, he was detained outside his house and charged with refusing to show his identity documents to the police. He was sentenced to 10 days administrative detention, but on the seventh day he was again taken to court where a third request for a psychiatric examination was presented by the regional psychiatric hospital.
The hospital claimed that Andrei Bondarenko had
previously requested a psychiatric consultation, although he denies this,
and presented a form authorizing them to carry out an examination without
his consent. ?he case was adjourned and Andrei Bondarenko travelled to the
town of Gaisin in Vinnytsya Region (100 km south of Vinnytsya) in August
where he arranged to have a psychiatric examination in order to prove his
sanity. On the basis of the certificate he received confirming his mental
health, the request for a psychiatric examination was turned down. However,
the Prosecutor’s office appealed against this decision and on 22 October
Andrei Bondarenko travelled to Zhitomyr in the neighbouring region where he
arranged to have a third psychiatric examination proving his sanity. On 29
October in a closed session, the judge granted the order for a psychiatric
examination. Andrei Bondarenko was not present and was represented by two
civil defenders and a lawyer. The lawyer was ordered out of the court room
by the panel of judges.
Andrei Bondarenko started a trade union branch at
the factory where he worked in Vinnytsya in 2006. He was subsequently
dismissed from his job but continued as trade union representative, and in
2009 he became the Deputy Head of the regional branch of the independent
Ukrainian trade union “Trudyashchi” (workers). He has campaigned tirelessly
for the rights of employees in Vinnytsya region and in doing so has
threatened the vested interests of powerful local leaders. He has not
hesitated to expose the irresponsible and inadequate behaviour of officials
and in August 2010 he registered an NGO called Movement for a Corruption
Free Vinnytsya Region Prosecutor’s Office.
In particular, Andrei Bondarenko seems to have angered the authorities with his work with sugar factory workers. These seasonal workers are employed for only a few months a year after the sugar beet harvest and are frequently not paid their salaries. Many of these factories are officially owned by shadow companies, although in fact the real owners are influential local people many of them high up in the local administration. Andrei Bondarenko started a campaign of taking the shadow companies to court to demand payment of wages. According to one prosecutor’s statement, he started 80 such cases in 2008 alone.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- Asking for Andrei Bondarenko to be given psychiatric examination outside the Vinnytsya Region to ensure impartiality, with the participation of a psychiatrist from the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association and the World Psychiatric Association, and that he not be subjected to any treatment until he has exhausted all legal remedies;
- Asking for an investigation into the numerous irregularities in this case, for example the fact that his lawyer was excluded from the hearing on 29 October;
- Reminding the authorities that they have an obligation not only to ensure that human rights defenders can carry out their activities unhindered but also to protect them against any “violence, threats, retaliation.
Acting Prosecutor General
Vul Riznitska 13/15
Fax: 011 380 44 280 2851
Salutation: Dear Prosecutor
Bankovaya Str. 11
Fax: 011 380 44 255 6161
Salutation: Dear President
Vul Instytutska 21/8
Salutation: Dear Ombudsman
Ambassador Oleh Shamshur
Embassy of Ukraine
3350 M St NW
Washington DC 20007
Phone: 202 333 0606
Fax: 1 202 333 0817
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 15 December 2010.
Tip of the Month: Write as soon as you can. Try to write as close as possible to the date a case is issued.
** POSTAGE RATES **
Within the United States:
$0.28 - Postcards
$0.44 - Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
$0.75 - Postcards
$0.75 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.) To Mexico:
$0.79 - Postcards
$0.79 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.) To all other destination countries:
$0.98 - Postcards
$0.98 - Airmail Letters and Cards (up to 1 oz.)
Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights. This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.
END OF URGENT ACTION APPEAL