By the beginning of 2010, there had been over 147,000 people held at prisons and more than 38,000 at pre-trial detention facilities in Ukraine.
"In Ukraine, 321 per 100,000 people end up behind bars, which is three times as many as in Western European countries," Oleksandr Bukalov, head of Donetsk Memorial, a human rights group, told a press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday, where he presented the fifth annual report on "Protecting the Inmates' rights in Ukraine 2009."
In 2009, the number of inmates in Ukraine rose for the first time in seven years, the human rights activist said. There is an increasing number of instances of suicide and HIV contraction at Ukraine's penitentiary institutions.
Speaking of convicts' rights, there have been almost no positive changes, Bukalov said. Violations are seen not only in detention conditions, but also in the way inmates are being treated by prison staff. Also, the number of reports about convicts' protests reduced in 2009. Incident inquiries are regarded as a formality, the human rights activist said.
As for the mortality at penitentiary institutions, 761 died and 44 inmates killed themselves in 2009, Bukalov said. The number of suicides in 2008 was 40.
There has also been a positive development: the number of tuberculosis patients among inmates is gradually falling, the human rights activist said. At the same time, the number of HIV-positive inmates rose by nearly 1,000, Bukalov said. "Medical services remain at a low level," he said.
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