18 letters of appeal with Concluding Observations of the UN Committee against Torture were submitted by the Committee “Salidarnasc” to administrations of correctional facilities and pre-trial detention facilities of the KGB and on Valadarskaha str.
“International obligations of the Republic of Belarus are a priority over the national legislation and shall be implemented no matter what the political situation is and despite any other circumstances” – Inna Kuley, Chairperson of the Committee “Salidarnasc”, mentions in the appeal letters she signed.
Concluding Observations of the UN Committee against Torture were developed on the basis of the Fourth Periodic Report of the Republic of Belarus and the respective Shadow Report that was drafted by 6 NGOs: Committee “Salidarnasc”, “Legal Initiative”, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Legal Transformation Center, “Platform” and Human Rights Center “Viasna”.
The Shadow Report was answering the questions put forward to Belarus by the UN Committee against Torture.

Belarusian human rights defenders grounded their answers on results of the monitoring and analysis of the situation with Belarusian penitential system, most importantly, after the events of December 19, 2010, when a wave of repressions and unlawful court processes broke out in the country. Hundreds of people were opposed with tough and inhumane detention conditions that human rights defenders set equal to torture.

Examples of numerous violations of prisoners’ rights to medical assistance, legal representation, contacts with families were mentioned in the Shadow Report together with information about harassments and intimidation of people by representatives of law-enforcement bodies, especially during the procedure of arrests and detentions in pre-trial facilities. Upon the bases of these facts, UN Committee against Torture in its Concluding Observations persistently recommended the Belarusian state to“Ensure that all detainees are afforded, by law and in practice, all fundamental legal safeguards from the very outset of their detention”.

Numerous facts mentioned by human rights defenders again confirmed that confessionary statements were at times given in the circumstances of torture and inhumane treatment (e.g., when A. Mikhalevich, A. Sannikau, A. Atroshchankau, U. Niakliayeu, M. Statkevich, A. Liabedzka and other political prisoners confirmed to the Military prosecutor’s office that the KGB exercised torture against them).

Human rights defenders stated that at the moment there is no information about any cases when penalties were introduced towards officers of law-enforcement bodies for using such tools to receive testimonies. UN Committee against Torture, therefore, urged that “as a matter of urgency, the State party should take immediate and effective measures to prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment throughout the country.”

The Committee expressed its concerns related to information about poor detention conditions: overcrowding of prison cells, bad nutrition, lack of access to personal hygiene premises, actual lack of medical service[i].

Letters of appeal sent by “Salidarnasc” to institutions of Belarusian penitentiary system were particularly stressing these parts of the report by UN Committee against Torture: “All violations, including those allowed for by you, by those subordinate to you and by other persons in institutions subdued to your command, shall be investigated in due time course and subject to legal assessment in accordance with national legislation and international obligations by the Republic of Belarus”, as mentioned in the letters. 

Address appeals once again reminded heads of correctional facilities that Belarusian human rights defenders and their international colleagues keep a watch over their actions, and there will be a situation when failure to observe the laws will lead to liabilities.
Main provisions of UN Committee against Torture Concluding Observations are available for your information



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