Analytical review of detentions in Minsk in March 2017 (infographics)
From March 27 to April 13, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" collected and processed 130 questionnaires from individuals whose rights were violated for exericsing freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly.
The circumstances suggested by the results of the survey lead to the conclusion that law-enforcement agencies were involved in deliberate abuse of the laws governing their activities, while in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, a person, his rights, freedoms and guarantees of their implementation are the supreme value and purpose of both the society and the state. The state and all its bodies and persons holding public office should act within the Constitution and legislative acts adopted in accordance with it. Restrictions on the rights and freedoms shall be permitted only in cases stipulated by law for national security, public order, protection of morality, health, rights and freedoms of others.
Most often, the above rules were grossly violated by police officers: in 80 cases, people were apprehended by policemen without a uniform, in two more cases — in black uniforms of uncertain affiliation. It is not directly contrary to domestic law, but violates the OSCE standards, according to which “law-enforcement personnel should be clearly and individually identifiable: When in uniform, law-enforcement personnel must wear or display some form of identification (such as a nameplate or number) on their uniform and/or headgear and not remove or cover this identifying information or prevent persons from reading it during an assembly.” The rule requiring that police officers should wear uniform during a peaceful assembly is also a means of preserving their own safety, preventing possible cases of misunderstanding of their official status by the citizens.
In 109 cases, police officers did not introduce themselves to the detainees; this, in combination with the above circumstances, complicates the identification of representatives of law-enforcement agencies, including in cases of appeal against their actions.
In accordance with the Law "On the Bodies of Internal Affairs," an employee of a law-enforcement body should in all cases of restriction of the rights and freedoms of a citizen explain the grounds for such restrictions, as well as the rights and obligations arising in connection with this situation. Meanwhile, 107 out of 130 those surveyed did not receive explanations for their detention; some reasons were false or contrary to the law, for example, a suspicion of committing a crime or previous participation in the protests.
80 detainees claimed the use of physical force by police officers, 68 — impact munition without a valid reason ainee. Such actions are in violation of the Constitution and Art. 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They also do not meet the requirements of the Law "On the Bodies of Internal Affairs," which allows the use of physical force and impact munition in the performance of tasks for the protection of life, health, honor, dignity, rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens, the interests of society and the state from criminal and other illegal encroachments unless the implementation of these tasks is possible with the use of other means.
By law, the use of physical force and munition must be preceded by a clear-stated and obvious intention to use them, except in cases where the delay in their application would create an imminent danger to the lives of citizens or can cause other serious consequences.
In all cases, when it is impossible to avoid the use of physical force, impact munition, weapons, military and special equipment, personnel of the bodies of internal affairs must strive to make the least harm to the life, health, honor, dignity and property of citizens. Thus, police officers clearly exceeded their authority by using physical force and munition for the purposes other than those specified in the law, which should receive a proper assessment by the bodies in charge of monitoring compliance with the law.
Analytics by Human Rights Center "Viasna". Illustrations by dapsh.