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Will now police make decisions who to punish and how in Ukraine?

Beginning of November 2011, Ukrainian Verhovnaya Rada (a supreme body similar to Parliament) reviewed a bill on changing the legislation around ‘prostitution’. In the background note, Mogilev, the Minister of Interior, writes that the reason for the reform is the fact that existing legislation is not working (news article link http://cripo.com.ua/index.php?sect_id=10&aid=125635 ).

According to the authors of the bill, right now only city administrative committees (within city executive body) can deal with these cases, the village committees are not authorized to take the case. Since the cases should be addressed by the executive bodies in the location where the person is officially registered, most of cases on individual sex work remain unaddressed because most of fined sex workers come from smaller towns and villages.

Another argument is that even if it was possible for the administrative committee to deal with cases in the city where the offence took place (and not in the town of offenders official registration), it would still be impossible to deal with the case. According to the law the perpetrator can be detained only for 3 hours, while it is not enough to identify the person and draft the description of the offence. And, according to the Minister, it is definitely not enough for the Committee to study the details of the case in the presence of the perpetrator.

Hence, the Minister suggests to delegate the whole procedure of making a decision to the local offices of Interior so that they can deal with the case in the presence of perpetrator.

In addition, the bill suggests to make the penalties for individual sex work stricter than before. If now the punishment for the offence can be only a warning, the new bill will make it obligatory to pay a high fine.

According to a representative from Legalife, Ukrainian organization for the rights of sex workers, the new fines would amount to a 5-7 day earning amount of an average street worker. This will make sex workers seek more money and clients and will lead to repeated fines and sex workers will be even more dependent on the mercy of police officer.

To contact Legalife or SWAN write to swan@swannet.org

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