Belarus: critical situation of political prisoners, restriction of freedom of 40 activists

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Human Rights Centre “Viasna”, released a joint statement in which they expressed deep outrage at the large-scale and systematic acts of pressure and repressions of political prisoners in Belarus.

The statement addressed to the Belarusian authorities highlights that “in spite of the fact that on 14 February 2013 Belarusian Deputy Prosecutor General Aliaksei Stuk stated at a press conference, that the detention conditions of the political prisoners in Belarusian prisons and penal colonies are the same as for any other prisoner, evidence obtained by the organizations starkly contradicts his words.”Thus, according to the authors of the statement , “the 11 individuals identified by the organizations as political prisoners suffer regular punishments that sharply exacerbate the already difficult conditions of their detention by restricting their means of support and the quality of their food and medical assistance.”
Deprivation of meetings with relatives, limitation of correspondence and constant pressure to receive petitions for pardon are outlined in the statement as the evidence of pressure.In addition, the statement notes that “limited access to lawyers, with the meetings most often taking place in the presence of guards, does not permit to transmit the information on the harassment in a secure way.”
FIDH and Human Rights Centre “Viasna” also noted that besides these 11 political prisoners, a number of unimprisoned Belarusian citizens are currently subjected to severe restrictions imposed following prosecution in politically motivated criminal cases. According to the human rights defenders, 40 individuals are subject to such restrictions. 
Three persons were placed under preventative supervision by internal affairs agencies on the basis of administrative penalties imposed by courts in connection with their social activism in 2012. The statement explains that these people must stay at home during nighttime hours, are unable to leave their hometowns without permission from the authorities, and are subject to a numerous bans that severely restrict their freedom, including on visiting public places, etc. Violation of these regulations can entail repeat criminal prosecution and deprivation of freedom.
FIDH and the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” presented an executive summary, which graphically demonstrates the systematic repression directed at individuals who are serving or have already served sentences for their political or human rights activities.  This document was submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy, Štefan Füle, as well as to corresponding UN and OSCE agencies, and other international human rights protection mechanisms.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Human Rights Centre Viasna urge the Belarusian authorities to cease repressions, free all arbitrarily detained persons, review all cases involving a clear political component, and remove all restrictions on the rights of persons released following politically motivated prosecution.

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