Report about torture in Belarus heard at UN

2011 2011-11-15T17:40:50+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Andrei Bandarenka, a former political prisoner, leader of “Platforma”, has addressed the UN Human Rights Committee with a report about tortures in Belarusian prisons.

Andrei Bandarenka had prepared an alternative report for his appearance in Geneva, which was read out before the report of the official Belarusian delegation. Ina Kulei from “Solidarity” committee told that to Radio Svaboda. “Solidarity” committee had been taking part in preparation of the alternative report in cooperation with the Legal Initiative, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the Legal Transformation Centre and the informational-educational institution “Platforma” headed by Andrei Bandarenka.

The report of Andrei Bandarenka includes facts of tortures of political prisoners, as well as prisoners of different penal colonies, failure to fulfill requirements of the international and national legislation in the human rights sphere. A separate chapter of the report is dedicated to the problem of death penalty in Belarus.

The report reminds about the tortures the oppositionists arrested after the presidential elections – presidential candidates Andrei Sannikau and Aliaksei Mikhalevich, pro-democracy activists Aliaksandr Atroshchankau, Aliaksandr Klaskouski and many others – underwent in the KGB remand prison.

Back in 1987 the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic, as a part of the Soviet Union, but as a separate member of the UN, ratified the UN Convention against Torture. However up till now human rights activists are continuing struggle against tortures in Belarusian prisons. Is anything changing to the better, and if yes, why so slow?

“Something is done certainly, but the central problem is abuse of power by the police,” said the Chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak. “And particularly this year we have become witnesses that not only arbitrary rule, abuse of power by police, and wider, by law-enforcement agencies, have become a tool of political pressure. The regime cannot struggle with law breakers who use tortures, as the same tortures are ordered by the regime. As a result, a vicious circle has appeared.”

A human rights activist Valiantsin Stefanovich says that such a Belarusian peculiarity of the torture problem as their covertness, is reflected in the report. Tortures are most often reported by political prisoners, but other prisoners suffer from them as well:

“It is a very wide problem in our country, and especially as long as places of detention and other places where citizens are kept compulsorily are concerned. Human rights activists do not have access to such places, there is no public control over such places at all. Many different things happen there. And it is reflected in the report.”

Beating and tortures against prisoners in Hlybokaye prison were reported in summer in Belarus. A former inmate of the prison Yury Linha had the courage to tell about that at a special press-conference. In a few days after the press-conference Yury Linha was detained by police, an administrative case was opened against him.

A human rights activist Andrei Paluda worked on the part of Andrei Bandarenka’s report dedicated to the capital punishment in Belarus. In this issue Belarus violates the Convention against Tortures as well, he said:

“Such a punishment as death penalty results not only in suffering of people who are doomed to death, but their relatives as well. The body is not returned to families, no one knows the exact date when the sentence is enforced, the place of the execution is not named. Meanwhile, executions in Belarus continue. Last year there were two death sentences, this year two death sentences have been enforced as well.”

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