Belarus’ human rights centre Vesna reported that it has evidence of 450 people beaten up by law enforcement officers during post-election peaceful protests. Over 6,000 people were detained and kept in custody for up to ten days with their whereabouts being unknown, the centre said.
The Vesna human rights centre, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur to have an urgent say on torture in Belarus.
In a press statement, the centre said that Vesna and the OMCT had urgently launched a campaign to collect information about victims of tortures and police abuse in Belarus. In a period from 12 to 20 August, they had received evidence from more than 450 people, with photos and videos and had interviewed more than 100.
The human rights activists recall that of more than 6,000 detainees, 450 of them were beaten, humiliated and tortured by law enforcement officers. According to Vesna, torture and ill-treatment were systemic “since law enforcement officers were trained for such brutal repressions against people.”
“An initial analysis of the data showed that systematic torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are crimes against humanity,” the centre representatives stated.
They also stressed that despite numerous reports about police crimes, the Investigative Committee has not initiated a single criminal case or detained anyone from among those who organised or committed crimes against participants of peaceful rallies and casual passers-by.
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In connection with the above, FIDH, Vesna, OMCT and BHC ask to urgently intervene in the situation in Belarus and ask the UN Special Rapporteur to:
- issue a statement condemning the widespread and systematic torture and inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in Belarus and calling for an immediate end to these violations;
- call on the government of Belarus to immediately and effectively investigate all facts of torture or ill-treatment and bring those responsible to justice;
- make a visit to Belarus;
- urge the Human Rights Council to convene a special session (or an urgent debate at the 45th session on the human rights situation in Belarus) in order to clarify the facts and circumstances of serious human rights violations committed before, during and after the presidential election in Belarus.
On 9 August, Belarus held its sixth presidential election. According to the final results Alexander Lukashenko won 80,10% of the vote, while Belarusian opposition challenger Svetlana Tikhanovskaya scored 10,12% of votes.
After exit poll results were made public, thousands Belarusians took to the streets of their cities across the country. As a result, some 7,000 people were detained, hundreds were injured during (as law enforcers used tear gas, water cannons, flash grenades, and rubber bullets) and after detentions.