To solve a pending  problem of Ukraine - release of Yulia Tymoshenko - we must "forgive and set free" all sick prisoners, who have not been completely cured within 365 days in Ukrainian hospitals and who have means for treatment abroad. That is the principal idea of the draft bill, submitted by non-factional deputy Angelica Labunska.

The document has caused heated arguments among politicians and experts, as it has too many hidden rocks, and has been obviously worked out to amnesty Tymoshenko. But if it is adopted, the new law will be applied to all convicts, which means that apart from Yulia Tymoshenko all rapists, pedophiles and criminal authorities will be free to go to Israel or Europe "for treatment". And then they will be back home... and still at large. You think the definition is too harsh? Not at all, just modern reality.

In particular, the draft bill enables prisoners, who undergo treatment in Ukrainian medical and penitentiary institutions but cannot fully recover, to go abroad for treatment. Moreover, the document does not provide for any restrictions or limitations by the gravity or character of a crime. What a prisoner need is to bring a reference from a Healthcare department proving that 365 days of treatment have not cured the poor soul, and the kind court will let him go for treatment abroad along with amnesty for medical reasons.

The Justice Ministry and parliamentary Office for Research and Evaluation slams the draft bill, saying that similar possibility cannot and should not be granted to dangerous criminals, including lifers. Moreover, do not forget that this draft bills not only helps criminals to go at large, but also to spread all over Europe, which is definitely not in the interest of Europeans. And if these criminals are true patriots, they will come back to Ukraine, which is absolutely not in the interest of Ukrainians, especially of victims and their families.

The definition "to go abroad for treatment" is also not clear. Prisoners, for the most part, are ill with tuberculosis, hepatitis, AIDS/HIV and other infectious diseases, and not all of them are curable. Yes, there is a supporting therapy, which helps the patient to lead a relatively normal life. But what should court do in this case?  Should it release such prisoners for therapy or not? The questions remain rhetorical, as the draft bill does not give any answers to them, as well as to the question why a disease should become an indulgence. 

The parliamentary Office for Research and Evaluation declares that if to take this draft bill seriously, it must be adjusted in accordance with Ukrainian legal system. In particular, it is necessary to define legal grounds for granting a prisoner a permission for treatment abroad; to define an individual approach to every offender, because bribery and corruption cannot be compared to murder or rape; to set clear duration of treatment with a possibility of its prolongation or reduction; to introduce a big caution, which will be seized to the benefit of Ukraine in case of violation of conditions of treatment abroad, etc.     

ForUm has asked experts whether it is worth it to risk public safety for the sake of one politician.

Eduard Bagirov, human right activist:

- Life, health and freedom are the most precious things for a person. Considering that this draft bill enables citizens to preserve these values, why should we stand against it, even if it concerns people who committed grave crimes? They have already paid with incurable or fatal diseases. It is obvious that these people have already been punished by worldly and God's laws. 
When a person is arrested and sentenced for a crime he committed, the government undertakes an obligation to provide him with adequate confinement conditions, including medical services. And if a prisoner has an active disease the government must provide 100% medical assistance. And if the government cannot do it for a variety of reasons, including lack of financing, this draft bill is entitled to existence. 

If another deputy submits a draft bill providing for better financing of medical assistance to the convicts, let the parliament adopt that law.

Zoryana Chernenko, expert on medical law of the Public Council of the Healthcare Ministry of Ukraine:

- The fact that a person has been convicted does not mean he does not have a right for medical assistance. Prisoners cannot call a doctor or choose a medical institution. In fact, prisoners must pay for treatment from their pockets, which is a discrimination in and of itself. Active legislation on medical assistance stipulates that if a Ukrainian citizen cannot obtain proper treatment in the country, he has a right to seek treatment abroad at his own expenses. The draft bill submitted by Labunska stipulates for similar possibility - if a prisoner has not been cured within a year in domestic hospitals, he can go abroad for further treatment at his own expenses. Moreover, this document is an extension of the norm providing for release in case of complicated chronic diseases.  Anyway, payment for such treatment is already a punishment, as not everyone can afford it. I understand that nobody likes rapists or terrorists, but the right for medical assistance is basic for all.

On the other hand, considering that medicine within the penitentiary system is under control of this very system, even if this draft bill is adopted and Tymoshenko is set free, other prisoners will not be that lucky. The system will do everything in its power to prove domestic medicine can cure its patients. After half a year, sick prisoners will be hospitalized again and the new countdown will begin. In other words, manipulating the procedure it is easy to prevent other prisoners from leaving abroad.
In European countries, for example, there is a list of diseases enabling prisoners to be released for medical reasons. The fact that the new legislation provides for release of such patients must be considered just as a mitigating circumstance for court. A serious disease requires many resources and attention anyway.

Dmitriy Djangirov, political expert:

- According to the drat bill, treatment abroad is permitted for those prisoners, who has undergone a year-long hospitalization outside a penitentiary institution or prison, which means this document has been worked out for one person only - Yulia Tymoshenko, and hardly anyone else can ever use it. Moreover, it is up to court to decide whether to let a prisoner to go abroad or not. However, the biggest absurdity of this document is that the draft bill tells the court what to do, for example to release a prisoner for medical reasons. Court is an independent branch of power, and no draft bill can oblige it to do something. I think that if this draft bill is somehow adopted and Tymoshenko is released, then there will be an appeal to the Constitutional Court and the law will be abolished. The document includes at least five violations of the active legislation and the Constitution. Thus, considering that the decision of the Constitution Court cannot be challenged or cancelled, only Tymoshenko will be able to take advantage of this law.  

Andriy Rokhanski, lawyer, doctor, candidate of medical science, director of the public organization "Institute for legal research and strategies":

- This draft bill is irrational, if considered outside the context of the political situation with Yulia Tymoshenko. There is a similar norm in Poland, when sick prisoners interrupt the service of sentence for the period of treatment outside a penitentiary institution if the latter cannot provide proper medical assistance. But nobody cancels the sentence and prisoners go back in prison after the treatment.

Besides, it is not a secret that having sufficient means it is possible to obtain proper treatment within the penitentiary system. This draft bill enables only really rich people to be treated abroad. Moreover, what is it with the term? Why one year? Why not nine months or a year and a half? Being a doctor I have many questions to this clause. I repeat, if considered outside the context of the political issue, this draft bill does not make any sense and does not improve the situation for the majority of prisoners.

Tetyana Montyan, lawyer:

- The first part of this law contradicts the second. Either it is done on purpose or those who have developed it have no idea about legal engineering. One part of the draft bill says that a judge can choose to amnesty a prisoner for medical reasons, but another paragraph stipulates that after treatment this person must be sent back to prison for further service of sentence. In other words, those who has written the document do not know what they want. I believe this draft bill has been submitted for political reasons only, because being in right mind nobody would every submit such a document, where two parts contradict each other.

Viktor Serdiuk, president of the council on protection of rights and safety of patients:

- This draft bill must be improved, as it has many nuances, which require additional explanations and bylaws. The document can be adopted as a basis, but then studied and amended.  


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