Human rights defenders present “Report on Results of Monitoring of Places of Detention”
December 10, International Human Rights Day, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" presented an analytical report on the results of monitoring places of detention in the Republic of Belarus. The report was prepared by human rights activists in cooperation with an expert, lawyer Pavel Sapelka.
The monitoring, covering the period from 2013 to 2014, was conducted by analyzing the penal law in order to obtain objective information from public sources as well as through interviews with prisoners. At the same time, measures were taken in the framework of national legislation to improve conditions of detention.
Speaking at the presentation of the report, Pavel Sapelka noted that the study provides current data on the number of places of detention and the number of prisoners and a detailed analysis of the labor rights of prisoners which, as show by the monitoring, are violated everywhere. The report also includes the analysis of the the legislation regulating the rights of prisoners to correspondence and access to various authorities, which are unduly limited.
Particular attention was paid to analyzing the opportunities for civilian control of places of detention. As a result, it was concluded that such institutions are totally closed from the public. Human rights activists state the practical inability to legally conduct such monitoring.
The state of closed educational institutions (special vocational colleges, etc.) was studied as well, which allows for the conclusion that these institutions have features of deprivation of liberty.
The study paid a particular attention to the problem of torture and cruel, inhuman treatment in prisons. It provides documented examples of such treatment and states that such cases are usually not investigated by independent and impartial authorities.
Pavel Sapelka acknowledged that human rights defenders had limited possibilities to influence the situation in places of detention, but it was possible to make these facts public and propose the state to take certain measures to prevent such violations.
At the presentation of the report, a speech was also delivered by a prisoner's wife, Liudmila Kuchura, who personally faced with a situation where torture was used in respect of her husband, imprisoned in the Mahiliou penal colony No. 15. For a long time already, the woman, assisted by the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, has been struggling for bringing to justice those involved in the cases of torture of her husband, Piatro Kuchura. The colony administration put him a in a chamber with bleach, which inflicted a great harm to his health. The woman believes that the management of the colony took revenge on her husband for his repeated complaints about the conditions of detention and attempts to have his case reviewed.
This case is detailed in the presented report.
Basing on the results of the monitoring, the researchers proposed measures in the field of regulatory legislation and law enforcement that could improve the situation of prisoners.
In particular, the authorized state bodies are proposed to adopt measures to eliminate cases of torture and cruel, inhuman treatment in places of detention conduct objective examinations on all such cases and bring the perpetrators to criminal liability.
It is also necessary to ensure the right of prisoners to receive legal assistance, as well as to eliminate the institute of activity therapy centers.
The experts recommend the authorities to take measures for prevention of discrimination against prisoners at work, consistently improve the conditions of detention in penal colonies and prisons and to create the necessary conditions for the organization of public control over places of detention.
Here is the text of the report in Russian.