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IAPB: 14,300 documents relating to 2,052 survivor-victims already digitized and archived Document

2023 2023-02-08T17:36:25+0300 2023-02-08T17:36:48+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB) released its third progress report for February-September 2022.

Two years after the August 2020 Presidential elections, Belarusians continue to be arrested and detained on politically motivated charges by a regime that persists in issuing legislative amendments to entrench its power, the report says. More than 1,100 persons protesting against constitutional amendments and Belarus complicity in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine were arrested in February and, as at the end of September 2022, 1,324 political prisoners languish in prison. Those released continue to allege they were tortured or subject to other forms of mistreatment. Persons fleeing the country risk the appropriation of property they left behind and losing their citizenship, while exposing themselves to discrimination in third countries given Belarus’ role in the conflict in Ukraine. Many Belarusians in Ukraine, including members of IAPB Belarusian co-lead teams, were forced to flee for the second time.

Still, the commitment of Belarusians to documenting alleged gross human rights violations in Belarus does not waiver. IAPB Belarusian co-leads—Human Rights Centre “Viasna” and International Committee for the Investigation of Torture in Belarus—continue to collect information and evidence from survivor-victims/witnesses, which the IAPB consolidates, preserves and analyses along with open-source intelligence to support accountability processes. In recognition of its contribution to the promotion of human rights in Belarus, Viasna was awarded the Clooney Foundation for Justice Albie Award in the “Justice for Democracy Advocates” category and its founder, Ales Bialiatski, the Nobel Peace Prize.

Collection of information and evidence

Since 1 April 2021, Viasna and International Committee collected information and evidence from 857 victims and other witnesses (584 men and 273 women) regarding alleged crimes under international law, including relevant documentary evidence such as medical and court records, bringing the total to around 20,000 documents. The IAPB also collected over 600,000 items from open sources, including 82,000 videos, 238,292 images and 159,030 text items from 213 sources.

Consolidation, preservation and analysis of information and evidence

As of 30 September 2022, approximately 14,300 documents relating to 2,052 survivor-victims and witnesses, including witness statements, medical reports and court records, and related translations into English, had been restructured and uploaded to the IAPB’s digital archive. Of these, approximately 9,000 files had been reviewed according to the IAPB’s survivor-victim/witness file review strategy, screened for relevance and readability and tagged according to a custom-made coding layout.

The IAPB also preserved its collection of opensource intelligence, including important metadata, ensuring it is available for accountability purposes in years to come. As of 30 September 2022, the IAPB had reviewed and tagged 1,800 open-source files according to its file review strategy.

The coding layouts developed by the IAPB, based on the Belarus context, enable data reviewers to tag each piece of information and evidence according to identified facts. IAPB analysts and lawyers can then analyse the material according to the legal framework-based coding layout also developed by the IAPB during the reporting period, and develop analytical briefs. They also enable searches of the data according to requests for assistance made by accountability bodies now, and in the future.

Support to the OHCHR Examination on the human rights situation in Belarus

The IAPB provided substantial assistance to the OEB between February and September 2022. The assistance provided by the IAPB to the OEB in December 2021 was reflected in the High Commissioner for Human Rights report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in March 2022. After several in-person and online discussions in February and March 2022, in April 2022 the IAPB and OEB entered a second data sharing agreement. After the continuation of the OEB’s mandate by the HRC on 7 April 2022, the IAPB continued to provide support to the OEB throughout their transition period. Following the commencement of the new OEB team in July 2022, the IABP met with the OEB numerous times to discuss IABP support for their investigation, as a result of which the IABP shared information regarding 140 survivor-victims and witnesses willing to speak with OEB investigators and provided substantial logistical assistance to the OEB to carry out interviews with a number of them. As of 30 September 2022, the IAPB expects to receive further targeted requests for assistance from the OEB.

Support to criminal justice authorities

The IAPB expanded on existing collaborations by engaging with criminal justice authorities in other jurisdictions, increasing the European states with which it has directly engaged for assistance to four. As a result of these engagements, the IAPB is providing access to survivor-victims/witnesses, analytical brief/s and other reports on the data collection.

The IAPB also participated in a number of information-sharing and collaboration-targeted criminal justice forums, including a meeting between prosecutors and civil society organised by the US Office of Criminal Justice and the Centre for

Justice and Accountability at Eurojust on 8 April 2022 and panel discussions with investigators and prosecutors on investigating torture and the conflict in Ukraine.

The IAPB is a coalition of independent non-government organisations that have joined forces to collect, consolidate, verify, and preserve evidence of gross human rights violations constituting crimes under international law allegedly committed by Belarusian authorities and others in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

IAPB: 14,300 documents relating to 2,052 survivor-victims already digitized and archived


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