The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has submitted to the parliament a draft bill on changes to the Penitentiary Code of Ukraine, proposing to allow prisoners using mobile phones.

"Among others, this draft provides for the right to use mobile phones in correctional centers and colonies of minimal security," press office of the State Penitentiary Service reports. According to SPS, the ban on using mobile phones in such detention places is illogical, as prisoners of correctional centers and colonies of minimal security already have the right to wear civilian clothes, to use money, to live with families within the territory of a colony, to buy housing and to leave the territory of the institution for certain periods of time.

"Mobile phones will be all registered, and every prisoner will have the right for one phone only," the press office informed. In case it is established a prisoner is using not registered phone, he will be deprived of the phone and punished for violation.

ForUm has decided to ask lawyers, MPs, policemen and psychologists how these amendments can change the penitentiary system in general and life of prisoners in particular.

Yevhen Zakharov, human right activist, co-chair of Kharkiv human rights group:

- Western prisoners do not limit the right of detainees to use mobile phones. Thus, there is no point to ban this right in Ukraine. The fact is that in many colonies prisoners already have mobiles, and I believe the parliament should adopt these amendments at the legislative level.

Moreover, we can allow mobile phones not only in correctional centers and colonies of minimal security, but also in penal institution of middle level security.
Mykola Siryi, PhD in law, senior professor of Koretski law institute of Ukraine:

- It is important not to tear social ties of detainees and to give them an opportunity to communicate with relatives and friends. In such a way, we create conditions for further resocialization of prisoners. From this point of view, the initiative is positive.

On the other hand, we should not allow prisoners to use mobile phones for criminal purposes. Prisoners are criminals after all, and a part of them has close ties with mafia. If they start using phones for coordination of criminal groups, it is hardly socially useful.

Volodymyr Tykhovski, medical psychologist:

- I have not studied this document in details, but basin on general information I can tell that this situation has its pros and cons.

Firstly, the permission to use mobile phones can be considered as mitigation of punishment. Secondly, phones will be tapped for sure, and a prisoner can get extra service term if he says something wrong.

Tetyana Yablonska, a lawyer and human right activist:

- The situation has its pros and cons. Anyway, prisoners already use mobile phones and it is not a secret. In fact, the adoption of this draft bill will mean legalization of the current situation.

As for using phones for criminal purposes, I don't think it is possible to organize a break out, action or something similar by means of a mobile. In my opinion, there are more "pros" than "cons".

Vitaly Yarema, MP, former head of the Kyiv state department of Interior Ministry:

- MPs should study this document very thoroughly, in particular the category of prisoners it will be applied to. We don't want the situation when some criminal boss controls his groups from behind the bars.

If prisoners are not dangerous to the society, they can quietly use mobiles. It will be humanization of the penitentiary system. It is important for Ukraine that people released from prisons do not resume their criminal activity.

Eduard Bagirov, human right activist:

- In many countries prisoners already have permission to use mobiles, and Ukraine just follows the world practice. Detainees do not lose contact with the outside world and the process of resocialization goes smoothly.

However, there is also a point of image. Ukraine must show the European community that it is a democratic rule-of-law state, which follows the world standards in the sphere of human rights. For this, we adapt our legislation to these standards.


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