Human rights defenders call to review sentences in politically motivated trials
Statement by the human rights community of Belarus
September 9, 2021
We, representatives of the human rights community in Belarus, note that the authorities continue to use political motives to imprison individuals in violation of the right to a fair trial, other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These sentences are clearly selective in comparison with others.
Andrei Krylou was sentenced on September 2, 2021 to five years in a penal colony by the Vaŭkavysk District Court under Part 1 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code for calling to participate in "riots" by posting a message in a Telegram chat. The accused pleaded not guilty, giving convincing arguments in favor of his innocence and the groundlessness of the accusation.
Siarhei Kupreshyn was sentenced on September 1, 2021 to three years in a penal colony by the Pastavy District Court under Article 368 and Part 2 of Article 293 of the Criminal Code for insulting officials and for storing gunpowder after losing a permit to own hunting weapons. The punishment under Article 293 was much stricter than those imposed by the courts in similar cases.
After evaluating these cases of criminal prosecution, we conclude that each of them has a political motive for prosecution.
According to para. 3.2 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners, a political prisoner is a person deprived of liberty if, for political reasons, he or she is persecuted for at least one of the following reasons:
a) the detention has been imposed in violation of the right to a fair trial, other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms;
d) the person has been detained in a discriminatory manner as compared to other persons.
We, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, declare that the persecution of Andrei Krylou and Siarhei Kupreshyn is politically motivated, and both detainees are therefore political prisoners.
In this regard, we call on the Belarusian authorities to:
- review the measures and procedural decisions taken against them, respect their right to a fair trial and eliminate the factors that influenced the decision to enforce pre-trial detention;
- immediately release all political prisoners and end political repression.
Human Rights Center "Viasna"
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House