Statement No. 8 "On the allegations of torture and ill-treatment in prisons in the Republic of Belarus"

Acting on behalf of the Committee on International Control (CIC) over the Human Rights Situation in Belarus, which unites representatives of human rights organizations from the OSCE participating states together with international non-governmental organizations
monitoring the overall situation regarding the observance of fundamental human rights in the Republic of Belarus and issues regarding defending human rights defenders and ensuring their professional activities go unimpeded;
emphasizing that human rights are subject to the direct and legitimate concern of international civil society;
noting that the health care of inmates in prisons is the direct responsibility of public authorities;
urging the government of the Republic of Belarus to follow the international obligations undertaken in the field of human rights, in particular, to ensure conditions of detention in prisons be free torture and cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment;

The International Observation Mission:

Expresses deep concern by the facts reflected in the news, that  the life and health of prisoners sentenced in the cases connected with December, 19th - in particular, Mikita Likhavid, Andrei Sannikov and Zmitser Bondarenka, are under threat due to the actions of penitentiary officers and prison conditions that do not meet the standards set forth in the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners,1 while violating of Article 7  "the right to human treatment and respect of persons deprived of their liberty" of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by the Republic of Belarus.

On the basis of the arguments set forth in the Memorandum of the CIC on May 4th, 2011 (see: http://www.hrwatch-by.org/sites/default/files/BYC-Memorandum_polit_priso...) ,

we continue to regard the trials of those persons as politically motivated. The report notes that:

• Mikita Likhavid’s relatives have reported, that  from the moment he was brought to the colony, more than half of the time (35 days) he spent in solitary confinemen (with the last time - for 20 days). In addition, limits were placed on his food expenses and the parce with items of hygiene, mailed by his relatives, he never received.
• According to the statement by  Irina Khalip, wife of Andrei Sannikov, her husband has written in a letter about danger to his lif in prison. It should also be noted that during the trial Sannikov declared that he was subjected to torture.  At this moment, Sannikov is being denied visits from his wife, letters from him began to come less often.
• Of particular concern is the current state of health of Zmitser Bondarenka, who has been diagnosed with paresis of legs, inflammation of the herniated disc and pinched spinal nerves, requiring surgical intervention. From media reports it became known that the administration of the detention facility in the form of an ultimatum has demanded from Bondarenka, that within a week he must either agree to the surgery or go to the colony. Bondarenka wsa denied a consultation from a neurosurgeon. According to available information (see "Nasha Niva" 24.07.2011.) Physicians who are familiar with the health of Zmitser Bondarenka, as well as physicians from the prison hospital are opposed to the emergency surgery, citing the physiological contraindications and greater risk of acquiring disability;

considers it necessary to note that the exacerbation and deterioration of Bondarenka’s condition is likely to be directly related to the conditions of confinement in the KGB prison, where he was held from December 2010 to April 2011 in circumstances. Without adequate response were reports that this man, who moves with a cane ,was made to run up the stairs with a mattress and two bags, a long time (sometimes up to 1 hour) to stand, legs apart, to sleep on boards on the cold floor, and also reports that, when at the end of January 2011 Bondarenka appealed for help to the doctor because of a stomach ulcer, he was transferred to solitary confinement, where was chained for several hours  (see "Nasha Niva" 7/23/11). Such treatment may be considered as inhuman and cruel, in violation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

In connection with the foregoing, the International Observation Mission urges:

1. prompt investigation of all allegations of inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment in prisons and detention centers that were made by the prisoners, their relatives and representatives.

2. providing access of Zmitser Bondarenka to medical consultation with qualified medical specialists to get the most accurate assessment of his health and to set a reasonable timetable for a surgery, as well as to provide an opportunity for full and qualified post-surgery rehabilitation within his status.

3. On strict compliance with international standards of detention, including the general sanitary condition of cameras, the number and size of windows, the possibility of private hygiene (toilet, shower visits), the nutrition of prisoners, providing them with bedding, the ability of walking and communication with relatives and receiving correspondence and parcels.

In our opinion, Belarus should also contribute to systemic measures to combat torture in prisons, in particular, to sign an additional protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to request the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe about joining the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

July 25th, 2011
Head of the Mission
Andrei Yurov

News of Belarus

Tough sentences announced to Brest antifascists

A verdict was delivered today in the case of Brest antifascists acused of participation in a group fight with neonazis which happened on May 8, 2013.

Antifascists were tried under the art. 339.3 (malicious group hooliganism) and 147.2 (malicious bodily harm). The case was qualified as malicious due to the fact of pepper spray usage in the fight.

Dzmitry Stsyashenka got 5 years of penal colony with reinforced regime (339.3) and 500 euro of damages to be paid to the injured nazis.

Exclusive: European Union moves to suspend sanctions on Belarus

The European Union is likely to lift some sanctions on Belarus, including its travel ban on President Alexander Lukashenko, after he freed a group of political prisoners last month, diplomatic sources say.

An arms embargo against the former Soviet republic would remain. But in an overture to the man the West calls Europe's "last dictator", diplomats are looking at suspending visa bans and asset freezes on most of around 200 people under sanctions for rights abuses, some since disputed elections in 2004.