Position of Belarusian human rights organizations on the death of Raman Bandarenka
Minsk — November 16, 2020
Raman Bandarenka, who was beaten on the evening of November 11 in his neighborhood in Minsk (so called “Square of Changes”), died in hospital on November 12. On the night of November 11, he was taken to hospital from the Centraĺny District Department of Internal Affairs of Minsk with severe cerebral edema, closed craniocerebral trauma, subdural hematomas, bruises and other injuries. The surgery lasted several hours, but the doctors were unable to save his life.
Numerous video footage of the incident and testimonies by eyewitnesses allow us to conclude that officers of special units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus were involved in the crime with a high degree of probability. This is evidenced, in particular, by the purpose of their actions (removing the protest symbols), equipment typical of law enforcement agencies, professional and coordinated actions of the attackers when detaining and carrying Raman to a minibus, which allegedly belongs to one of special police units, and the eventual transportation of the detainee to the district police department. Failure to take immediate law-stipulated measures to investigate the crime is further evidence of the government's involvement in its commission.
We stress the fact that Raman had been held in the building of the district police department (i.e. under full police control) for about two hours before the ambulance was called. In this regard, the legality of the actions of the police officers, who obviously did not take measures to provide the beaten man with emergency medical care, requires an unbiased inspection.
We call on the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor General's Office to open a criminal investigation into Raman Bandarenka’s death, while the police should immediately identify and search for those involved in the crime.
We also once again urge law enforcement officers to stop using violence against civilians, refrain from carrying out criminal orders and instructions on the use of disproportionate force, violence, torture and ill-treatment of citizens. We urge the Investigative Committee to immediately open unbiased criminal investigations into reports of mass torture and murders of peaceful protesters. We urge the prosecuting authorities to use of all measures available to stop the clearly disproportionate actions of police officers, including through impartial supervision of the actions of investigators in charge of investigating allegations of torture and the killings of peaceful demonstrators.
It is the impunity of police officers who use torture, cruelty and violence against people, the complete disregard for basic human rights by the authorities and law enforcement agencies, as well as the total inaction of prosecutors and the Investigative Committee that has led to this tragedy. Its recurrence, further escalation of violence and worsening of the human rights crisis in the country can only be avoided by strictly adhering to the principle of inevitability of punishment.
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Human Rights Center "Viasna"
Advisory center on contemporary international practices and their legal implementation “Human Constanta”
Center for Legal Transformation “Lawtrend”
Belarusian Documentation Center
Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House
Belarusian Association of Journalists