Liudmila Kuchura applies to the Office of Prosecutor General and the Parliament concerning the ineffectiveness of investigations into allegations of torture

2014 2014-03-06T15:29:54+0300 2014-03-06T15:34:25+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Liudmila Kuchura

Liudmila Kuchura

Though Minsker Liudmila Kuchura has taken much effort, she still cannot get a punishment for the administration and staff of penal colony No, 15 in Mahiliou, where her husband was tortured with clorine while serving his prison term.

Therefore, the prisoner's wife decided to file appeals, prepared with the assistance of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", to the Head of Department for Supervision of the rights and freedoms of citizens Pavel Yeliseyeu, as well as to the Commission on legislation at the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus and the Commission on Human Rights, National Relations and Mass Media of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus.

"September 19, 2013, Pavel Kuchura, 3rd group disabled, was placed in a punishment cell chamber, where the toilet bowl and the sink were filled with a huge amount of bleach. As a result of the contact with water there occured a reaction which caused a poisoning with chlorine fumes. My husband was transferred to another chamber only after a significant deterioration of his health, no medical assistance was given to him. An examination held by the Mahiliou Regional Prosecutor's Office found that, according to explanations of staff of the medical department, chlorine hadn't been used as a means of disinfection in the penal colony for a long time. It means that clorine was used in this case as a means of torture,” stated Liudmila Kuchura in her appeals.

In her appeals to the Investigations Committee and the Prosecutor's Office Liudmila Kuchura asked to recognize the fact of the use of cruel and inhuman treatment and give a proper assessment to it. Consideration of the appeal by the MIA Corrections Department, to which the appeal was forwarded by the investigative authorities, cannot be considered impartial.

Meanwhile, the illegal actions of the staff of PC-15 had threatening consequences for the prisoner's health, which is also stated in the appeals. "On January 10, 2014 Piatro Kuchura had a scheduled chest X-ray. January 15, 2014 he was called for additional examination, after which the prison medic stated that there was no tuberculosis, but there was “something strange". My husband reported this to the doctor- therapist who said that traces of chemical exposure could be left in the lungs. Piatro Kuchura wasn't issued any written conclusions about the state of his health. I wasn't issued such conclusion either, despite my appeal to the Corrections Department.”

In her appeals to the Office of the Prosecutor General and the parliament Liudmila Kuchura stressed that Belarusian legislation does not contain provisions on the liability of officials for torture, cruel and inhuman treatment, but their actions can be qualified under the Criminal Code, which provides for liability for crimes against human rights and against the interests of the service. Also, on the basis of her personal experience, she argues that Belarusian law does not provide an effective mechanism for investigating of allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

At this time, it should be recalled that Belarus has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by General Assembly resolution 39/46 of the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1984 , and the Convention says:

"Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture, as well as other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment which do not amount to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction,

Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its competent authorities.

Therefore, Liudmila Kuchura asked the Office of Prosecutor General and the Commission of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly to hold an inspection on her appeal in terms of implementation by the Republic of Belarus of the obligations assumed by it by the concluded and ratified international treaties. She also asks lawmakers to report on the measures taken by the National Assembly of Belarus to introduced the standards in the criminal law which would criminalize torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Expert on the prison system and a specialist in human rights Pavel Sapelka notes that the problem of the struggle against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is a priority in the states aspiring to widespread implementation of democratic standards. She drew the example of Moldova as an example of the way how an effective mechanism for investigation and criminalization of torture can be implemented in the national legislation.

"In the recent years, some reforms have been carried out in Moldova, as a result of which theere were created mechanisms and legislation that allow to effectively prevent, investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment, and prosecute their perpetrators. In 2010, the Prosecutor General of Moldova established a department to combat torture, which includes 70 special prosecutors. Center for Human Rights (CHR or Ombudsman) is an independent national institution established to protect and promote human rights, has powers to consider individual complaints, carry out preventive visits, propose amendments to the legislation, inform the public about its findings and give recommendations to public authorities. At the end of 2012, Article 166-1 - "Torture, inhuman or degrading treatment" was introduced in the Criminal Code of Moldova to define and criminalize such acts. In particular, the intentional infliction of pain or physical or mental suffering, which is inhuman or degrading treatment, by a public person or a person actually performs the function of a public institution, or any other person acting in an official capacity, or with the consent or acquiescence of such persons may be punished by imprisonment of not less than a period of 2 to 8 years. Torture is punished with 6-15 years of imprisonment. Those who are convicted under this article cannot receive a punishment not associated with imprisonment.”

Although Belarus has not brought the concept of torture in the Criminal Code, certain action has been taken in this direction – the National Assembly considers an appropriate draft law. However, as stated by the lawyer, the legislature doesn't hurry to introduce direct responsibility for the torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.