Three people in prolonged administrative detention recognized as political prisoners
Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community
December 2, 2022
We, the human rights community, note with deep concern that the authorities use administrative prosecution to suppress freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one's choice.
Some detainees’ terms of administrative detention are repeatedly prolonged, so their detention is comparable to criminal punishment in terms of length.
In accordance with para. 3.1 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners, approved by the Belarusian human rights defenders at the III Human Rights Forum, a person deprived of liberty is to be regarded as a political prisoner and should be released immediately if their detention (including administrative detention) has been imposed solely because of their non-violent exercise of freedoms guaranteed by the international human rights law.
These criteria fully apply to all persons arrested under administrative charges for exercising their civil rights and freedoms. Accordingly, all persons subjected to administrative detention for exercising their internationally recognized rights and freedoms are considered political prisoners for the period of their incarceration. Individual statements on recognizing some of them as political prisoners are intended to draw special attention to specific cases of the most severe punishment applied to individuals for exercising their rights and freedoms.
- Mr. Uladzislau Bahamolnikau, a priest, was detained on August 31 and since then has been repeatedly sentenced to administrative detention; he is currently incarcerated.
- Ms. Volha Anishchuk, the wife of a political prisoner who was ill-treated in the colony, was detained on November 4, and repeatedly sentenced to administrative detention; she is currently incarcerated.
- Ms. Anastasiya Loika, a human rights defender, was detained on October 28 and sentenced three times to administrative detention; she is currently incarcerated.
The practice of sentencing a person to several administrative detentions in a row has been used by the Belarusian authorities as a politically motivated pressure for quite a long time.
We, representatives of Belarusian human rights organizations, express our protest over the political persecution and arrest of Mr. Uladzislau Bahamolnikau, Ms. Volha Anishchuk, and Ms. Anastasiya Loika and demand:
- to cancel court decisions handed down against the political prisoners and immediately release those;
- to put an end to repression against dissidents and participants in peaceful assemblies; release all persons imprisoned on administrative charges for the exercise of their civil rights and freedoms;
- to immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression in the country.
Human Rights Center Viasna
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House