Viciebsk human rights activist wants parliamentary hearings on activity therapy centers
“At present, it is not advisable to initiate the issue of holding parliamentary hearings on the topic “The results of enforcement of the Law “On procedure and conditions of sending citizens to medical and labor dispensaries and the conditions of their detention in them,” says Andrei Navumovich, chairman of the Standing Committee for Human Rights, National Relations and Mass Media of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly, in his reply to human rights activist Leanid Svetsik.
Leanid Svetsik earlier wrote to the House of Representatives questioning the quality of compulsory treatment of people suffering from alcoholic or drug addictions in so-called LTPs (activity therapy centers). The detention, protection and treatment of citizens absorb huge funds, both tangible and intangible resources. However, no one has comprehensively and deeply analyzed the efficiency of LTPs in terms of economics, morality and humanity.
In his petitions to MPs, the human rights activist also pointed out that officials of the Department of Corrections, a government agency in direct charge of LTPs, avoid publicizing what is happening behind the barbed wire and high fences of these special hospitals. Therefore, according to Leanid Svetsik, many citizens and human rights non-governmental organizations criticize the fact that the system of activity therapy centers is in charge of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose main purpose is to punish, rather than to treat.
In addition, according to the human rights activist, the very fact of detention of people in need of treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction humiliates their dignity. He also notes that non-governmental organizations and healthcare workers view “compulsory treatment through forced labor” as a violation of human rights, in particular of Article 8 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Based on the above reasoning, Leanid Svetsik suggested that the Standing Commission for Human Rights, National Relations and Mass Media initiated parliamentary hearings on the procedure and conditions of detention in activity therapy centers.
The answer signed by Mr. Navumovich said that on 14 May 2014 by the House of Representatives adopted a draft law “On amendments and additions to some laws of the Republic of Belarus on the direction of citizens to activity therapy centers and the conditions of their detention in them” (the law came into force on 29 June 2014).
“Members of the House of Representatives – members of the Commission – actively participated in the consideration of the draft law. For example, at my suggestion it was amended with a provision with a possibility of reducing the period of stay of a citizen in the activity therapy center. The Act also sets out regulations on the termination of stay in the activity therapy center of citizens who have reached retirement age (men – sixty years, women – fifty-five years old), pregnant women, disabled persons of groups I and II, people with diseases, which prevents them from staying in the activity therapy center, by decision of the head of the activity therapy center,” said the MP.
“In this regard, and given the fact that less than a year has passed since the entry into force of the latest amendments to the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On procedure and conditions of sending citizens to medical and labor dispensaries and the conditions of their detention in them”, we believe the initiation of the issue to hold parliamentary hearings mentioned currently impractical,” said Mr. Navumovich.