Valiantsin Stefanovich: MEPs should seek meetings with political prisoners
During his meeting with the Lithuanian MEP Justas Paleckis, Valiantsin Stefanovich, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, raised the issue of political prisoners. “I referred to our joint report with the International Federation for Human Rights, which has recently been prepared. We talked mainly about the situation of political prisoners. But not only about that,” said Valiantsin Stefanovich in his comments to Radio Racyja.
“We state that 40 people today have some kind of restrictions as a result of political persecution. To identify the problem of not only political prisoners, who are now in prisons, which, of course, worries us most of all, but in general, the problem of unexpunged convictions. What we demand is to expunge convictions, i.e. political rehabilitation... He did not speak a lot, he listened instead. He asked, for example, about future visits of delegations of MEPs: if they should ask for permission to meet with political prisoners.
According to Valiantsin Stefanovich, the opportunity to meet with political prisoners depends entirely on the will of the authorities. This opportunity exists. “There were precedents when diplomats met with Belarusian political prisoners. Recently, some of them were visited by the Papal Nuncio,” stresses Valiantsin Stefanovich. According to the human rights defender, he said that efforts should be made to seek such meetings to emphasize the importance of the issue of political prisoners from the EU’s side.