Viasna Concerned about the Fate of Political Prisoners Artur Finkevich and Zmitser Dashkevich
On September 27, 2006 Belarusian human rights defenders addressed the OSCE office Ambassador with a letter. In the letter they express their deep concern about the fate of young political prisoners Artur Finkevich and Zmitser Dashkevich in conjunction with inhumane conditions of their detention and methods used by the administration of their penitentiary institutions.
Human Rights Center Viasna has learned about difficult situation of these political prisoners and has all grounds to assume that Artur Finkevich and Zmitser Dashkevich receive severe and inhumane treatment from administration of their penitentiary institutions.
Artur Finkevich is serving his 2-year term of “freedom restriction” in one of the penitentiary institutions in Mahilou. According to our sources, he has to stay in very bad conditions. All the time he is being pressured by the administration of his open-type prison. Thus, recently Artur has had a surgery on his legs. Despite the fact that he had to stay in hospital for a recovery period, the police forced him to return to the dormitory. His wounds on the legs haven’t healed up yet. However, from this week on the administration forces him to go to work. Artur works at a brick factory, where he has to do hard physical work. The administration of his penitentiary institution regularly threatens him, saying he would be transferred to a higher security regime because of “disciplinary remarks”.
Zmitser Dashkevich was arrested on suspicion of violation Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code (activity on behalf of an unregistered organization). On September 21, 2006 Zmitser was indicted and left in custody. At present Zmitser Dashkevich is kept in a detention center in Valadarskaha Street in Minsk (“Valadarka”).
Human Rights Center Viasna has obtained information, that Dashkevich is kept in very bad conditions, which can be assessed as severe and inhumane treatment. For 3 days he and 24 other people were kept in a cell of the size of 12 m2. The people in the cell slept sitting on the floor. Now Zmitser is kept in another cell, which has 21 people and 16 bunks. Thus, in order to sleep the detained have to take turns.
We believe by such treatment of prisoners the authorities greatly violate the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; fail to observe the minimal standards of treating prisoners, and fail to implement obligations taken by Belarus as a country-participant of the OSCE.
The Human Rights Center Viasna asked the OSCE office to address the Prosecutor General of Belarus requesting permission to visit Finkevich and Dashkevich and to inform the Belarusian authorities about OSCE position on this issue.
Viasna also drew attention of the OSCE office in Minsk to conditions in which other political prisoners: Alexander Kazulin, Tsimafei Dranchuk, Mikalai Astreika, Mikola Statkevich, Pavel Seviarynets, Andrei Klimau, Siarhei Skrabets, and Ivan Kruk are kept.