Human rights activist Leanid Svetsik: It is necessary to solve the problem of life and health insurance of prisoners

2014 2014-12-24T12:32:03+0300 2014-12-24T12:32:03+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Leanid Svetsik

Leanid Svetsik

Vitsebsk human rights activist Leanid Svetsik has written to the House of Representatives with a proposal to consider the issue of life and health insurance of prisoners (convicts). MPs have forwarded the proposal to the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Finance. The latter answered that the authorities were not interested in the introduction of compulsory insurance of life and health of persons held in prison.

Leanid Svetsik sent his petition to the House of Representatives back in October. In his address, he wrote: “In accordance with Articles 24 and 45 of the current Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the State shall protect human life from any illegal encroachments and guarantee the right to health. This right applies to prisoners and persons convicted by the court.”

According to the human rights activist, one of the ways to protect the life and health of prisoners, which could contribute to the provision of this right, is legally enforceable compulsory insurance of their life and health. So he asked the deputies of the National Assembly of Belarus to study the experience and suggestions of insurance companies and human rights organizations concerning the insurance of prisoners. The human rights defender suggests that deputies develop and legislate the right of prisoners to the accident insurance and insurance against unlawful acts of third parties, including employees of the Department of Corrections.

Leanid Svetsik’s proposal was considered by the Standing Committee on labor and social issues. The deputies refused to respond to the petition citing formal reasons because the National Assembly “considers draft laws submitted by subjects of legislative initiative in the established order”.

As a result, the proposal was forwarded to the Ministry of Finance and the Department of Corrections of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Siarhei Pratsenka, First Deputy Head of the Department of Corrections, said that there was need to legislate the compulsory insurance of life and health of prisoners, as the current legislation fully solved this issue.

Deputy Finance Minister Uladzimir Amaryn, referring to Part 2 of Article 825 of the Civil Code, said that the law did not provide for obliging citizens to insure their lives and health. This provision also applies to prisoners and convicts, but they have the right to voluntary insurance. The response, among other things, says that insurance companies are able to provide insurance services in places of detention, and insurers are free to determine the conditions and types of services.

In order to identify the interest of insurance companies in the development and introduction of a new insurance product – voluntary insurance of life and health of prisoners (convicts), the Ministry of Finance appealed to the Belarusian Association of Insurers, which brings together the majority of insurance companies in Belarus.

The Belarusian Association of Insurers said the following:

The experience of voluntary insurance of convicts exists in the Russian Federation. This type of insurance is designed to cover individuals who are serving a sentence of imprisonment in the penitentiary system, and carried out on a voluntary basis at the request of convicts or their relatives.

After repeated attempts by a number of insurance companies to introduce this type of insurance, convicts in the Russian Federation today continue to be insures by LLC IC Derzhava, RK Garant Soglasiye, BALT-Strakhovaniye and Renessans. A number of organizations, such as the Military Insurance Company, suspended this type of insurance because of considerable insurance payments.

Insurance case in the majority of insurers is an accident that occurred as a result of illegal actions of employees of institutions and bodies executing criminal penalties of imprisonment.

At the same time, the insurance companies of the Russian Federation stress a number of difficulties in the implementation of life and health insurance in respect of convicts, namely the impossibility of objective risk assessment in the insurance contract, fraud and self-harm, obstacles to control and objective assessment of insurance cases, closed nature of the prison system and lack of transparency of the criminal executive system.

Meanwhile, the main problem in the implementation of such insurance is the difficulty to document the insurance case and to obtain the necessary documents on the basis of which insurance payment can be carried out. The penal system is closed and does not allow insurers to visit correctional institutions for detailed clarification of the incident that occurred.

According to the Belarusian Association of Insurers, taking into account the experience of the voluntary insurance of convicts in the Russian Federation, insurance organizations of the Republic of Belarus have not expressed interest in this type of insurance.”

It turns out that for all relevant authorities and insurance companies compulsory insurance of life and health of prisoners is politically or economically disadvantageous.

On the other hand, the sad statistics from prisons suggests that there are several dozen dead prisoners each year and about 90,000 persons who suffer from various serious diseases. So the problem exists, and must be addressed urgently.

“The opportunity to have an insurance policy would help to improve the working and living conditions in prisons, labor discipline, respect for the rule of law on the part of authorities and institutions of the correctional system, would contribute to the humanization of the penitentiary system in the Republic of Belarus,” said human rights activist Leanid Svetsik.