Salihorsk residents demand introduction of criminal liability for torture
Civil activists from Salihorsk
addressed the Chamber of Representatives with proposals to introduce the notion
of "torture" in the Belarusian criminal legislation, and criminal
punishment for it. They also demand that the MPs start working out a law
"The matter is that the Belarusian legislation contains no definition of "torture" athwart provisions of the UN Convention agaisnt Torture, ratified by the Republic of Belarus. There is no such definition in any legal acts of Belarus," says the member of the Salihorsk represetation of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aliaksei Valabuyeu, the initiator of this address. "Belarusian legislation provides penalty for the abuse of office powers. There are also other articles of the Criminal Code which provide an indirect punishment for actions which can be considered as torture or ill-treatment. However, there is no direct punishment for torture in our country."
The human rights defender is sure that the reluctance of the authorities to criminalize torture is dictated by political factors: "There is no doubt that the appearance of the notion of "torture" in the Belarusian legislation, and an article providing penalty specifically for torture, and, moreover, the appearance of the Law against torture will mean a public recognition of the fact that there are cases of cruel and inhumane treatment on the part of representatives of the authorities on our "island of peace and stability," says Aliaksei Valabuyeu.
In their address to members of the Chamber of Representatives the activists also point at the observations of teh UN Committee against Torture on Belarus, made during the 47th session, held in autumn 2011. In particular, the Committee recommended Belarus to immediately supply the Criminal Code with the norms which would define torture and qualify it as a criminal offence in line with article 1 and 4 of the UN Convention against Torture.