Department of Corrections should not forget about country’s international obligations
The Department of Corrections has responded to a petition of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, which requested information about the conditions of detention of Andrei Bandarenka, former head of the Platform Innovation human rights NGO. However, the request was left without consideration on the merits in the interests of Bandarenka.
Uladzislau Mandryk, the Department’s deputy head, wrote that the “right to apply is voluntarily implemented by the applicant. Citizens exercise their right to apply either in person or through their representatives. According to Art. 12 of the Law “On Applications by Citizens and Legal Entities”, written requests should enclose documents confirming the authority of persons who apply on behalf of other citizens.” These documents were not provided by the human rights defenders, and it was the reason not to consider the request.
However, Pavel Sapelka, lawyer of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", believes that the opinion on the need for such documents in a situation where fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens should be protected is deeply mistaken:
“Article 9 of the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms provides that in the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to: complain about the policies and actions of individual officials and governmental bodies with regard to violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, by petition or other appropriate means, to competent domestic judicial, administrative or legislative authorities or any other competent authority provided for by the legal system of the State, which should render their decision on the complaint without undue delay; offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit another request to head of the Department of Corrections and the Minister of Internal Affairs, and in order to remind those persons about the international commitments of Belarus to attach the text of the Declaration as the document providing for the right to protect Bandarenka, and, in general, to respond to any instance of cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment.”
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" wrote to the Department of Corrections after receiving reports of harassment against imprisoned Andrei Bandarenka for his previous human rights activities. Viasna asked 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.