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10 points on torture and ill-treatment reports

2020 2020-08-20T15:46:51+0300 2020-08-20T15:56:22+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Bruises on the victim's body

Bruises on the victim's body

After thousands peaceful protesters were detained and hundreds were subjected to inhuman treatment on August 9 and in the following days, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" together with the World Organization against Torture (OMCT) began to collect testimonies of victims and document them. Over the past 10 days, the human rights activists have received several hundred reports of torture and ill-treatment by security forces.

Viasna expert Pavel Sapelka analyzed the reports and summarized them in 10 points.

Between August 9 and 14, officers of various units of the Interior Ministry committed numerous crimes against Belarusian citizens. The events were prompted by the presidential election, which was marred by gross violation of democratic principles. During and after the election, people took to the streets to protest. The demonstrations are generally assessed as peaceful by observers. In violation of the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, the right to personal integrity, the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life, multiple participants in the peaceful assemblies were subjected to scandalously disproportionate violence aimed at disrupting the protests and punishing the demonstrators.

An analysis of the victims’ reports clearly revealed the regularity of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment throughout Belarus.

Among over 450 victims of violence who contacted the Human Rights Center "Viasna", there are no people suspected or accused of violent crimes.

The victims, in particular, were injured by grenades, shots from non-lethal weapons, despite not attacking police officers or other citizens, not carrying weapons or other objects, acting in groups of people who did not commit attacks and other actions that could threaten the lives and health of citizens.

Most of the victims received bodily injuries: fractures, bruises of various sizes, some of them fully covering the thighs, torso bruises, as well as mental injuries from beatings in the premises of bodies of internal affairs, in detention centers, and other facilities used to detain or punish them for participating in peaceful assemblies, for political convictions and for the purpose of renouncing their convictions and preventing their participation in peaceful assemblies. Some of the victims testified about being beaten with the above purposes during their detention or transportation in the vehicles of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

None of those who applied to the Human Rights Center "Viasna" resisted the arrest or committed any other actions that could be grounds for the use of physical force, riot gear and weapons by police officers in accordance with the Law “On Bodies of Internal Affairs”.

In the presence of obvious information about the commission of crimes by law enforcement officers, the Investigative Committee has not yet opened a single criminal case, and accordingly, has not detained or dismissed persons directly involved in organizing and committing crimes against participants in peaceful assemblies and passers-by.

Of particular concern is the interview of the Minister of the Interior, which shows, at least, that he is not in a position to fully control the units of special police bodies and ensure their lawful conduct, as well as reports of Interior Ministry officials instructing the personnel to purposefully use violence in order to disperse the protests.

None of Belarus's top officials has condemned or deplored the torture and ill-treatment of civilians.

The Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Belarus evades its functions to ensure the rule of law and order, protection of the rights and legitimate interests of citizens.

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