Near hundred people convicted in the protest-related criminal trials in May
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” continues to monitor politically motivated criminal trials related to the exercise by citizens of their fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Starting with the election campaign for the presidential elections in 2020, the Belarusian authorities have been actively using the judicial system in order to suppress any criticism of the authorities and discussions on the further development of the state.
In May the Human Rights Center Viasna observed a continuing trend toward criminal prosecution of citizens for political reasons. The political prisoner count has increased by 53 in the month.
Viasna human rights defenders are aware of at least 96 citizens convicted on political grounds in May. Of those, about two-thirds (63,54%) are men and one-third (36,46%) are women.
Of all May sentences known to human rights defenders, almost one-third (32%) were under the defamation articles, which the human rights community has long insisted on excluding from the Criminal Code. 60% were convicted under the articles on preparation of group actions grossly violating public order or active participation in them and mass riots.
Human rights defenders recorded that in May judges continued to impose penalties related to imprisonment and restriction of freedom on most of those involved in “protest” criminal cases. May sentences in numbers:
- 41 people sentenced to a total of 117 years and 1 month of imprisonment;
- 12 people sentenced to a total of 32 years of freedom restriction in an open penitentiary;
- 38 people sentenced to a total of 99 years and 10 months of freedom restriction under home confinement;
- 3 people sentenced to a total of 9 months under arrest;
- 6 people received fines totaling 27,520 rubles (about USD 8,150) as an additional punishment to freedom restriction or imprisonment;
- The court ordered coercive measures and mental treatment with ordinary supervision for defamation crimes for 2 people.
In May, the courts handed down custodial sentences in 42,7% of all cases. Another 12,5% of the sentences involved restriction of freedom in open-type penitentiaries. Home confinement was ordered in 39,6% of cases. Arrest (short-termed imprisonment) was used as a punishment in 3,1% of cases. Coercive measures and mental treatment were applied in 2.1% of cases.
Thus, various types of custodial sentences, freedom restrictions, arrests, and coercive measures were handed down in all of the politically motivated cases in May. None of the defendants were found not guilty or punished only with a fine.