Response stories

Violation of OST clients’ rights by law enforcement officers

A couple living in common-law marriage reached out to REAct reporting police misconduct against them. The man and the woman were patients of the OST program who picked up their OST medications at the service delivery site for self-administration during a ten-day period. On their way home, the couple was stopped by police, who humiliated them, behaved rudely, inspected the contents of their pockets without asking for permission, and body-searched them without citing any reason or justification. Although the clients informed the police that they were taking OST and showed all the necessary paperwork, no one listened to them. Witnessing these illegal police activities, the doctor and the nurse from the OST-dispensing site came to their rescue trying to explain that everything was within legal boundaries and that the patients were no problem as far as their medication taking was concerned. This notwithstanding, the police took the clients to the police station.

The man and woman were held in the police station all day, most of the time handcuffed to a heating radiator. They were released in the evening after having been charged with crossing the road illegally. Also, only half of their Methadone-ZN supply was returned, which was seized earlier that morning without making a police report.

Once released, the woman immediately turned to REAct for help in returning the medication. The following day, together with the legal counsel from the Nadiia i Dovira (Hope and Trust) Charitable Foundation, the clients came back to the police station with the intent to have the offense recorded. The REActor attempted filing a petition for consideration of the case at hand, but they would not accept it, only taking an explanatory statement and saying that at present it was impossible to establish the course of events because the staff was away for the weekend, and the duty officer’s log book had no record confirming the man and woman had been there.

As part of the REAct project’s involvement, together with the legal professionals from the Nadiia i Dovira Charitable Foundation,a complaint was composed and filed with the head of the local police department requesting video footage from the surveillance cameras located at the entrance to and inside of the police station to establish the fact of the clients’ earlier presence there. The State Bureau of Investigation has now initiated criminal proceedings and is investigating this case of rights violation.