Tortured detainee denied medical care
Viachaslau Rahushchuk’s case is representative of the widespread and egregious human rights violations that continue against those in Belarus who express dissent, as well as every-day people, following the beginning of mass peaceful protests against the widely contested results of the presidential election on 9 August. Belarus is facing its most serious human rights crisis in its post-independence history.
Opposition activists, journalists and bloggers, those expressing dissent, peaceful protesters and, as in the case of Viachaslau, by-standers, have been swept up in their thousands by law enforcement officers, many of whom operate in plain clothes, with no identifying insignia and often using excessive force. Current estimates are that over 30,000 people have been detained since 9 August. Thousands have faced proceedings under the Code of Administrative Offences resulting in fines or periods of “administrative detention” up to 15 days which can be imposed consecutively leading to much longer periods of detention. Over 900 people have been charged under the Criminal Code under various Articles and are facing prison sentences of up to 15 years. Others have already been sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Hundreds of peaceful protesters continue to be detained weekly. All those who have been targeted solely for exercising their human rights are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
Local and international human rights organisations have collected hundreds of testimonies of detainees who have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment at the time of arrest, during transportation and while in pre-trial detention. As yet, not a single investigation has been opened by the Belarusian authorities against law enforcement officers. This continuing failure by the Belarusian authorities to hold the perpetrators of such serious human rights violations to account is leading to increasing calls for the creation an international tribunal to ensure justice is secured.