Why are people dying in temporary detention?
As a rule, employees of temporary detention facilities (TDF), where administrative detainees and those sentenced to administrative arrest are kept, question the detainees about the state of their health with the aim to identify the illnesses and provide emergency medical care.
In the case of complaints about the state of health the duty policeman must immediately call the ambulance. In this case the duty guards of the TDF are guided by the ruling of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus of August 8, 2007 № 194 "On approval of the Internal Regulations of special institutions of the Interior, performing administrative penalty in the form of administrative arrest", as well as the ruling of the Ministry of Interior from October 20, 2003 № 234 "On approval of the Internal Regulations of temporary detention facilities of internal affairs bodies".
But there is often a need for immediate medical assistance while serving administrative arrest. In this situation, the TDF employees do not always go forward, as these rules don't contain the obligation to immediately provide provide medical care to prisoners with obvious signs of illness. The results of such inaction can be very unpredictable, up to death.
Therefore, April 1, 2015 the lawyer of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” Pavel Sapelka addressed the Minister of Internal Affairs of Belarus with a letter. The formal reason became the refusal to instigate criminal proceedings in connection with the death of Aliaksanr Akulich in the TDF of the Svetlahorsk District Police Department. Both the TDF staff and their inspectors from the Homel Regional Police Department believe that the former ones need to call the ambulance only while receiving a prisoner, and it is not necessary to call the ambulance in other cases.
Pavel Sapelka believes that in the performance of the duties the police must be guided first of all not by the internal regulations, but by the Law "On the Internal Affairs of the Republic of Belarus" of July 17, 2007 № 263-Z, Article 23 of which states: "Employee of the Interior should take steps to provide immediate medical and other appropriate assistance to victims of crimes, administrative offenses and accidents, persons who are in a helpless state or in a state that is dangerous to life or health".
In this regard Pavel Sapelka points to this legal collision and asks the Minister of Interior to put the internal regulations of the temporary detention facilities of internal affairs in line with the above law to eliminate this defect.