Appeal on detention conditions and health status of political prisoners in Belarus
To the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus
Mr. Alexander Konyukov
To the Head of the Department of Execution of Punishments of
the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus
Mr. Alexander Barsukov
To the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus
Mr. Anatoly Kuleshov
During the last months mass media increasingly reported that the individuals, who are currently serving sentences in penal institutions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and are considered by the human rights community to be political prisoners, are subjected to acts that can be qualified as ill-treatment or even torture. This information is confirmed by the statements of the prisoners’ relatives and colleagues.
Thus, the transfer of the former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and the leader of the international organization “Young Front” Dmitry Dashkevich from one penal institution to another can at least be characterized as ill-treatment. The process of escorting was long; at that time the prisoners were not able to obtain clothing and food, and this can lead to health deterioration due to changes in temperature. In addition, meetings with lawyers were not available during this period. In this connection, the process of transfer from one place to another causes extra physical and psychological suffering; and failure to provide relatives with information about whereabouts of prisoners causes even greater concern. In addition, on September 28th, 2011 at a press conference it was voiced that currently there is an imminent threat to the life of Sannikov and Dashkevich due to poor health conditions and a high probability of provocations against them. It was also voiced that for more than two weeks there is no information about the ex-presidential candidate, political prisoner Statkevich.
At the moment, this information was neither confirmed nor refuted by the official authorities of the Republic of Belarus.
In connection with the facts mentioned above, the International Observation Mission:
• reminds that the Republic of Belarus is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as committed itself to the OSCE documents in the field of human dimension and thereby, it is obliged to investigate all facts of the alleged torture, cruel and degrading treatment and punishment;
• emphasizes that such an investigation should be based on the principle of presumption of guilt of the State, which presupposes that the persons in charge provide objective evidence of their innocence or recognize their guilt and are punished for allowing the acts of ill-treatment;
• draws attention to the publicity of these individuals and the high level of public interest, including from the international community, to their prison and health conditions.
The International observation mission addresses its demands:
• to the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus – to conduct an immediate impartial public investigation of the incoming information on torture, cruel and degrading treatment against Andrei Sannikov, Dmitry Dashkevich, Nikolai Statkevich and other political prisoners, and to report about the process and outcome of the investigation to the media, to publish this information on the official website of the General Prosecutor's Office;
• to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, in particular the Department of Execution of Punishments – to provide immediately the general public, including international, with an opportunity to assess the conditions of detention of political prisoners and their level of health through access to them of international observers (including representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as representatives of the International Observation Mission), representatives of Belarusian NGOs and journalists with an opportunity to publicly express their opinions and with guarantees of safety provided by the authorities of the Republic of Belarus;
• to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, in particular the Department of Execution of Punishments – to guarantee the prevention of torture, cruel and degrading treatment and punishment of political prisoners.
October 3rd, 2011
Head of the Mission