Belarus – Abuse of prison regulations against imprisoned human rights defender Mr Ales Bialiatski
On 16 May 2013, the wife of human rights defender Mr Ales Bialiatski went to the Babruisk colony No.2, where her husband has been held since February 2012, in order to bring him a food parcel. However, the food parcel was refused by prison officials, who informed her that in March 2013 Ales Bialiatski’s right to receive food from visitors had been suspended for six months.
This incident is not the fist time that disciplinary measures have been used against Ales Bialiatski. Between March and June 2012, he received three reprimands, one of which resulted in the loss of visitation rights. Following the three reprimands, in June 2012 the human rights defender was named a ‘malicious disturber’, which resulted in his exclusion from the 2012 amnesty for economic crimes. Moreover, the amount of personal funds that he could use to purchase food and other basic items was decreased five-fold by the colony administration. In August 2012, two more reprimands were brought against him; one because he brought a piece of bread to his cell after dinner, the other because he put a curtain around his bed for privacy. As a result of these he was not allowed to received food parcels and was denied visitation rights. On 19 October 2012, the weight of parcels the human rights defender was allowed to receive was reduced from two to one kilogram, a measure which does not apply to any other prisoner. A parcel that his wife sent to him was later returned due to alleged violations of the terms of delivery.
Ales Bialiatski is the Chairman of Human Rights Centre Viasna. On 24 November 2011, he was found guilty of tax evasion on a large scale by the Pervomayski District Court of Minsk following an unfair trial, and was condemned to four and a half years imprisonment as well as the confiscation of all property including belongings registered in the name of other persons. The court also fined the human rights defender 721 million Belarusian Rubles (approx 82,700 USD) for alleged unpaid taxes and 36 million Belarusian Rubles (approx 4,100 USD) for state costs.
Front Line Defenders has published appeals and updates on this case, most recently on 26 November 2012. Front Line Defenders believes that continuous reprimanding of Ales Bialiatski is an abuse of prison regulations and is being used as a tool to worsen the conditions of his detention and prevent his early release.