FIDH and its member organisation in Belarus, Human Rights Center Viasna, publish an update of its note on political prisoners in Belarus.
Both organisations are outraged at the large-scale and systematic acts of repression being inflicted upon both political prisoners and individuals whose freedom has been restricted for political reasons. It hereby releases a document detailing this repression and calls upon the regime to cease its oppressive behavior.
Evidence gathered by FIDH and its member organisation in Belarus, Human Rights Centre Viasna, clearly contradicts the statement made at a press conference on 14 February 2013 by the Belarusian Deputy Prosecutor, General Alyaksey Stuk, that the detention conditions of the 9 detainees currently identified by our organisations as political prisoners in Belarusian prisons and penal colonies are not different from the conditions of other prisoners. The 9 detainees (on 19 October 2013, Pavel Sieviaryniets was released after completing his full sentence) suffer regular punishments that sharply exacerbate the already difficult conditions of their detention by restricting their means of support and quality of food and medical assistance. Often deprived of meetings with relatives, and subject to limits on correspondence, and constant pressure to make them write petitions for pardon, the physical ordeal of these individuals is intensified by psychological ordeals, qualifying detention conditions as inhuman and degrading treatment, prohibited by the articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
FIDH and Viasna hereby note that in addition to these 9 political prisoners, a number of unimprisoned Belarusian citizens are currently subject to severe restrictions imposed following prosecution in politically motivated criminal cases. This number includes 33 former political prisoners at the time of this publication.
Two of them have been sentenced to what is popularly known as “house arrest with hazardous labor,” i. e. deprivation of liberty without being sent to a minimum security correctional institution.
In 2012, three activists were placed under preventive supervision by internal affairs agencies on the basis of administrative penalties imposed by courts in connection with their social activism. Two political prisoners who were released in August of 2013 (Zmitser Dashkevich and Aliaksandr Frantskevich) were also subject to preventive supervision which means they must stay at home during nighttime hours, are unable to leave their hometowns without permission from the authorities, and are subject to numerous bans that severely restrict their freedom, including visiting public places, etc.
The preventive supervision imposed on Vasil Parfiankou was suspended while he is now committed to mandatory treatment at a Medical-Labour Center. Also, as of 1 October 2013, Uladzimir Yaromenak is no longer subjected to preventive supervision based on his wife’s pregnancy, but in August of 2013 he was charged with violating the rules of preventive supervision (Article 421 of the Criminal Code) and Pervomaisky district court of Minsk sentenced him to 3 month imprisonment. Currently, the entry of this judgement into legal force is expected and Uladzimir will have to serve the sentence.
With respect to 27 political prisoners who were pardoned and released from prison, their convictions have not been expunged, which deprives them of numerous civil and political rights, including the right to run in elections or work as a government employee. Their names remain on “preventive watch” lists maintained by internal affairs agencies, making them vulnerable to regular police visits. If brought in on administrative charges three times in one year, they face “preventive supervision”. Such supervision carries more serious restrictions and makes repeated criminal prosecution and deprivation of freedom possible.
See the full verison of note on political prisoners in Belarus