12 more defendants in defamation trials listed as political prisoners

2021 2021-09-30T16:50:23+0300 2021-09-30T17:21:26+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/telegtam_illustr.jpeg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

September 30, 2021

In response to the new cases of conviction, imprisonment and pre-trial detention of individuals on defamation charges, we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community, once again reaffirming our repeated calls to decriminalize defamation and refrain from imprisoning individuals for insulting officials, the state, state bodies and symbols (joint statement of December 22, 2020), we note the following.

We have received information about the following persons imprisoned for insulting the president, government officials (police officers), judges and state symbols, as well as the use of other permissible forms of expression:

Ihar Adamenkau, sentenced to one year six months of restricted freedom in an open correctional institution (“khimiya”) under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting an official; sent to serve the sentence;

Vadzim Yermalovich, sentenced to one year and six months of restricted freedom in an open correctional institution (“khimiya”) under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting an official; sent to serve the sentence;

Andrei Izotau, sentenced to two years of restricted freedom in an open correctional institution (“khimiya”) under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code; sent to serve the sentence;

Yauhen Kisleika, sentenced to one year six months of restricted freedom in an open correctional institution (“khimiya”) under Art. 364 of the Criminal Code; sent to serve the sentence;

Vadzim Yermashuk, detained on charges of desecrating state symbols and insulting the president (Articles 370, 368 of the Criminal Code);

Ihar Piatran, sentenced to two years in a penal colony under Art. 369 and 364 of the Criminal Code for threatening police officers and insulting an official in comments on a social media site;

Mikalai Slioz, imprisoned on charges of painting graffiti (Article 341 of the Criminal Code);

Mikita Prystalenka, sentenced to one year of restricted freedom in an open correctional institution (“khimiya”) under Art. 370 of the Criminal Code; sent to serve the sentence;

Vital Zhuk, sentenced to one year and six months in a penal colony under Art. 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting the president;

Siarhei Bankou, sentenced to three years of restricted freedom in an open correctional institution (“khimiya”) under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting an official; sent to serve the sentence;

Viachaslau Savichau, sentenced to one year in a penal colony under Art. 370 of the Criminal Code;

Dzianis Siarheyeu, sentenced to one year and 11 months of restricted freedom in an open correctional institution (“khimiya”) under Art. 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting an official; sent to serve the sentence.

In this regard, we consider their persecution and imprisonment to be politically motivated, as they are related to the peaceful exercise of expression. The convicts are therefore political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners.

We call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • immediately release political prisoners Ihar Adamenkau, Vadzim Yermalovich, Andrei Izotau, Yauhen Kisleika, Vadzim Yermashuk, Ihar Piatran, Mikalai Slioz, Mikita Prystalenka, Vital Zhuk, Siarhei Bankou, Viachaslau Savichau and Dzianis Siarheyeu and end criminal prosecution against them;
  • take measures aimed at decriminalizing defamatory offenses and abolishing articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state, state symbols and officials, namely, Articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370, and 391 of the Criminal Code of the Republic Belarus, and terminate all previously initiated criminal cases under these articles;
  • immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.

Human Rights Center "Viasna"

Lawtrend

Legal Initiative

PEN Belarus

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House

Partnership

Membership