Corrections department does not care about UN recommendations

2012 2012-01-16T17:05:35+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

The Corrections Department of the Interior Affairs Ministry of Belarus finds it «unnecessary» to follow the UN recommendations.

«Platforma» independent legal institution will not be given access to penitentiary institutions of Belarus, «Belarusian Partisan» writes.

In December 2011 “Platforma” independent legal institution sent a letter to the Corrections department of the Interior Affairs Ministry with a request to allow access to penitentiary institutions for representatives of the organization. According to the statute of “Platforma” registered on June 16, 2011 in the Main Directorate of Justice of Minsk city executive committee, the goals and aims of the institution are assistance in human rights protection in places of confinement, carrying out of monitoring, assistance in organizing and carrying out research in the sphere of rights and freedoms of suspects, accused and convicted persons. Public associations take part in reformation of the convicted, and facilitate work of organs and institutions engaged in punishment and other measures of criminal responsibility.”

Belarus is a participant of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the two most important international documents from the point of view of incarceration conditions.

On November 11 the UN Committee against Torture considered the regular report of Belarus on fulfillment of the UN Convention against Torture. The report was in the framework of the 47th UN session held on October 31-November 25 in Geneva. “Platforma” took part in preparation of the alternative report and participated in consideration of the both reports at the session of the UN Committee against Torture. In view of the results of the discussion the Committee adopted the Final remarks on the 4th regular report of Belarus.

In “Monitoring and inspection of placed of imprisonment” section of the Final remarks, the Committee calls upon the member state to give to independent governmental and non-governmental institutions access to the places of imprisonment in the country, including police prisons, remand prisons, security service facilities, incarceration places for persons charged on administrative charges, isolation wards of medical institutions and prisons.”

In order to carry out statute activities in full and for participation in correction of convicted, and in order to contribute to the work of correctional institutions, “Platforma” needs to have access to places of detention. The law currently in force entitles to that. That is why on December 21? 2011 “Platforma” sent the abovementioned address to the State Department of Corrections.

The Department of Corrections represented by the acting chief S. Pratsenka answered that “we find it unnecessary” to allow access to representatives of “Platforma” to the places of detention in Belarus. No comments or justification were given.

A question suggests itself: it is unnecessary for whom? Not for prisoners for sure.

“Up till now the penal system of Belarus remains one of the most closed penal systems in the world. “Platforma” constantly receives information about violations of the law and use of methods and means which are unlawful under all legal acts. In such a situation prisoners have no possibility to defend their rights independently and to get legal assistance. “Platforma” made public statements many times and defended persons serving sentences in places of detention, and sending petitions, filing complaints to the Constitutional Court, the Prosecutor’s office, the Department of Corrections and other law-enforcement agencies. Basing upon the results of our addresses, inspections were held and concrete workers of law-enforcing agencies who had violated the law, were punished,” “Platforma” representatives informs.

That is why “Platforma” is to lodge a complaint to the Office of Prosecutor general against the denial of the Department of Corrections and allow access to its representatives to places of incarceration. The conclusion of the Department of Corrections about “inexpediency” of public associations’ participation in control and rendering assistance to the work of penal organs and institutions contradict the requirements of the law and undoubtedly requires prosecutor’s investigation.