Tortures in Belarusian prisons: inhuman conditions, police violence and intimidation

It is stated in the report on incarceration conditions in Belarus, presented in Minsk by the International Federation of Human Rights. The report includes facts of inhuman treatment and tortures in Belarusian prisons and police departments, Radio Svaboda informs.

A conclusion is made in the report, that “conditions of detention in Belarus are extremely unsatisfactory, and amount to forms of inhuman treatment, prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.”

These conditions include the fact that Belarusian prisoners cannot have access to basic legal documents, that remand prisons are overcrowded, air there is intolerable, tuberculosis is widespread, food is of pure quality…

Human rights activists have also made a conclusion that the hardest incarceration conditions are for the detained on administrative charges: they do not have beds, not granted walks outside, cells are overcrowded, conditions are unsanitary, food and water are of poor quality, and they are prohibited to receive food parcels. Besides, massive arrests during political tensions deteriorate even these conditions, human rights activists write.

They recommend Belarusian authorities to carry out a serious reform of penitentiary system and criminal proceedings, in order to rule out cruel treatment of prisoners.

Incarceration conditions in Belarusian prisons could be determined as tortures

The Belarusian penitentiary system is too closed, it does not respect human rights to a necessary degree, does not have effective mechanisms of defense for people wronged by this system, the chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak is convinced.

This year the BHC together with international human rights organisations made a monitoring of the situation in Belarusian prisons and their correspondence to norms accepted by the UN. Its results, conclusions and recommendations were given to the Interior Ministry of Belarus and the Justice Ministry in spring. There is no answer still. The Belarusian leadership is not interested in system-level reforms, though there are some changes, Aleh Hulak said.

Aleh Hulak believes that some aspects of the incarceration conditions in Belarusian prisons can be described as tortures. Besides, the problem of police violence in prisons, especially against people with a low social status, remains burning. The BHC has many materials to this topic.

“This problem cannot be solved without changing our legal proceedings in some way, for the court not to taking up an accusative position, and not to consider evidence given during the preliminary investigation if the person withholds evidence later,” Aleh Hulak is convinced.