Viasna: Harassment of Andrei Bandarenka in prison linked to his earlier human rights activities
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" has written to Siarhei Daroshka, head of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Corrections, to highlight the conditions of detention of Andrei Bandarenka, former leader of the Platform Innovation NGO.
The human rights defenders stress that human rights activist Andrei Bandarenka, who is currently serving a sentence in penal colony No. 17 in Škloŭ, is known both in Belarus and abroad. The activists have received numerous reports on possible threats to his life and health, as a result of which he has been repeatedly placed in an isolated cell. This occurred after the administration of the penal facility contributed to the establishment of informal relations among prisoners, which allow to create conditions for cruel and degrading treatment of individual convicts.
Viasna reminds the official that the state guarantees the protection of rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of convicts, provides legal conditions of application of penalties and other measures of criminal liability in respect of the convicts, guarantees social justice, their social, legal and other protection.
Prisoners have a right to personal security. In the event of threats to the personal security of the convict, he is entitled to extra means of personal security. In this case, officials shall take immediate steps to ensure the personal security of the convict. The head of the penal facility shall order the transfer of the convict to a safe place or application of other measures aimed at eliminating the threat.
“The HRC "Viasna" considers it possible to state that of all the possible actions prison authorities only used one measure, which does not solve the issue, but limits its degree of freedom with respect to the rules of serving the sentence of imprisonment. Instead of protecting the imprisoned human rights defender’s rights, the prison administration formally and without any respect for the special conditions created by some of the prisoners towards Bandarenka and in the absence of proper monitoring harshly reacted to a formal violation of the disciplinary rules. Andrei Bandarenka received several disciplinary reprimands, including the offender status, as a result of which he was deprived of his right to amnesty. Moreover, the prison administration said they were going to toughen the conditions of his detention, namely send the activist to maximum-security prison,” says Viasna’s letter.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" considers the harassment of Andrei Bandarenka in prison as unacceptable and directly related to his previous human rights activities.
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" calls to:
- put an end to groundless harassment of Andrei Bandarenka by the administration of the penal colony;
- investigate the detention conditions of Andrei Bandarenka;
- order the prison authorities to provide safe conditions of detention of Andrei Bandarenka, which would not humiliate his human dignity;
- allow a meeting of Andrei Bandarenka with representatives of the country’s human rights organizations.
The appeal on behalf of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" has been signed by its chairman Ales Bialiatski.