Fears of the penitentiary system in Belarus
The Human Rights Center Viasna received the appeal of the convict Siarhei Iahoravich Karytkin who has been serving his sentence in Mozyr-based correctional facility #20 that witnesses against inhuman treating of prisoners. The convict failed to receive the evidence of consideration of his appeals in appropriate agencies. That is why his last hope is to send the appeals to an independent human rights organization to attract in order to attract attention of international structures to the condition of the penitentiary system in Belarus and his particular case.
Here we present the letter in the source language:
At night from the 3d to the 4-th of April I was beaten without any reasons by officers of the correction facility #1 when I was taking the cure in the Republican hospital for the convicted. The officers damaged my forehead. The convicts Ruslan Victorovich Kostochka, born in 1989, from correction facility #20, section #202, and Sergei Yevgenievich Pashkevich, born in 1980, from correction facility #20, section #91, are the witnesses of this crime and are ready to confirm the fact of beating. Denis Vasilievich Lapitsky, the duty doctor, rendered medical aid to me that night at about 4.04 a.m. He put stitches. In spite of this fact, the damaged forehead makes me look ugly.
After this incident I repeatedly appealed from the correction facilities # 1 and #20 to higher organs, but none of these appeals was sent to these organs. Simultaneously, I am constantly kept in an isolation ward although I have problems with my blood pressure.
In September 2005 I sent complaints to the Procurator of Belarus for Punishment Supervision and to the Department for Internal Affairs of the Ministry of Justice of Belarus. However, I am not sure the complaints will be considered.
I need legal assistance and effective measures to prevent similar unlawful acts. Please, send my appeal to international human rights organizations because the crimes of Lukashenka's regime are stamped on my face.
01.10. 2005 Korytkin
The HRC Viasna lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich comments on the statement:
"The facts mentioned in the letter are real in our correction facilities because, unfortunately, neither Belarusian human rights activists nor international human rights activists have access to these places. We are quite frequently contacted with similar appeals and I should note that tortures in correction facilities are an ordinary phenomenon. Thus, we can state that the convicted are treated like beasts and their lives do not cost anything. The convicted are threatened by the administration of those facilities where they serve their punishment.
At the same time it should be noted that the procurator’s office that must supervise the functioning of the penitentiary system does not address such statements and very rarely responds to them following procedures established by law. Crimes tend to be covered up, because beating a prisoner just like beating any other citizen or inflicting grievous bodily harm is a crime that has to be punished according to the Criminal Code of Belarus. A lot depends on the state, on whether it is prepared to defend the people's rights. The important thing is that the citizen has repeatedly attempted to file complaints with appropriate institutions, but as the letter shows all of these attempts failed.
There were other reported cases - some people committed suicide unable to tolerate tortures, there were large scale hunger strikes to protest against inhumane conditions, but in our society a person who finds themselves in prison is absolutely defenseless, he is completely dependent on the prison administration that often acts as a punitive agency. Unfortunately, in our state we will continue to come across such cases as long as human rights continue to be neglected.
Because almost all human rights organizations in Belarus are liquidated, we cannot file an official complaint with law enforcement agencies on behalf of Viasna. Still, this letter has to be handed over to the procurator’s office for investigation into the reported abuse by the prison administration, all the more so that the letter indicates witnesses. On our part we can distribute this information and bring the attention of the international structures to such crimes.”