The Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, which is held annually in Kyiv, took place from March 26 through April 4, 2021. The purpose of the festival is to promote the observance and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, to affirm the understanding of human dignity as the highest value, to increase civic activity in Ukraine, and to further the development of documentary film.
This year, the REAct project: Rights-Evidence-Actions co-organized the human rights event entitled, Prison Healthcare. What Kind of Medical Care Do Prisoners Receive?”, which was held as part of the Docudays UA festival. While addressing the attendees, Maksym Butkevych, National Coordinator of the REAct Project in Ukraine, explained why access to health care is the right of all people, including those who are serving sentences in correctional institutions, and pointed out the difficulties obtaining information about offenses against people who are behind bars.
“Between November 2019 and October 2020, the REAct monitoring and response system received 69 reports of rights violations from prisoners or former prisoners. Most violations involved denial of access to care, mostly medical care. Clients reported seeking help due to overall health deterioration, or specifically in connection with HIV, OST or TB treatment,” Maksym Butkevych said. “The picture that the participants painted during the discussion is extremely alarming. After all, apart from the fact that human rights are being violated, prisoners are one of the key populations most vulnerable to HIV and TB, and the situation on the ground with medical care in the correctional system only contributes to the spread of these dangerous diseases that pose a public health threat.”
Unfortunately, most of the participants in the discussion stated how crucial it was to talk about lack of access to particular kinds of assistance by patients who are in prison and that the issue of health care in the correctional system should be addressed at the state level.