Front Line Defenders condemns the decision of the Supreme Court of Belarus to uphold Nasta Loika’s 7 year prison sentence
On 3 October 2023, the Supreme Court of Belarus upheld the decision of the Minsk City Court to sentence woman human rights defender Nasta Loika to seven years imprisonment. On 20 June 2023, the Minsk City Court found the woman human rights defender guilty of “incitement of racial, national, religious or other social enmity or discord” as per Article 130, Part 3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. It is unclear when Nasta Loika will be transferred to the penal colony where she is due to carry out her sentence.
Nasta Loika is a prominent Belarusian woman human rights defender working in the field of human rights education. Her work includes addressing repressive “anti-extremist” laws and advocating for the protection of migrants and the rights of stateless people in Belarus. In the summer of 2021, Belarusian authorities shut down the organisation where Nasta Loika previously worked, Human Constanta, which promoted public interests and joint actions in response to modern challenges in the field of human rights. The shut down was part of an orchestrated attack against civil society in the country. In 2022, Belarus Human Rights House named Nasta Loika as a woman human rights defender of the year.
Since her detention on 28 October 2022, Nasta Loika has been systematically denied the exercise of her rights while in prison. This includes prohibitions on her sending or recieving personal correspondence, amounting to a form of additional psychological pressure against the woman human rigths defender. Throughout this detention period, Belarus authorities have also targeted the lawyers who represented Nasta Loika as defense attorneys, subjecting them to various forms of retaliation, including detention and disbarment. The targeting of human rights lawyers in this way constiutes a systemic violation of the woman human rights defender’s right to defense. In the earlier days of her detention, Nasta Loika also reported that she was exposed to inhumane treatement, including physical and psychological violence.
Front Line Defenders condemns the decision of the Supreme Court of Belarus to uphold the sentencing of woman human rights defender Nasta Loika to 7 years imprisonment, and expresses its grave concern at the systemic mistreatment and rights violations of the woman human rights defender throughout her detention. The persistent targetting of Nasta Loika reflects a wider trend of increased targeting of human rights defenders and civil society by the authorities in Belarus. Front Line Defenders continues to call upon the authorities of Belarus to immediately release the woman human rights defenders, since the organisation believes that she is being repeatedly targeted as punishment for her peaceful human rights work in Belarus, and for her refusal to leave the country.