“Arbitrary Preventive Detention of Activists in Belarus” – New report released

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) together with its member organization Human Rights Center “Viasna” (Belarus) released human rights report “Arbitrary Preventive Detention of Activists in Belarus”, which was prepared following a joint international research mission together with ADC “Memorial”, which had been carried out in May-June 2014. Report raises the issue of systematic use of preventive detention of civil activists by the Belorussian authorities on the eve of key events in order to suppress any forms of protests.

«Preventive arbitrary detentions are ordered in the period immediately preceding important political or social events, such as election campaigns, official visits by leaders of foreign states or large-scale planned events organised by the authorities or by the opposition», explained Ales Bialiatski, Vice President of FIDH and President of Human Rights Center Viasna, released in June from jail after three years in detention. «This practice is largely used by authorities in total contradiction of law and of the international obligations Belarus has adhered to» he added.

During the mission, interviews were conducted with numerous victims of arbitrary preventive detention just a few days after their release. Those interviewed included representatives of various social and political groups like Malady Front (Young Front), web-activists and members of anarchy groups or football fan clubs. The common factor between these people was their previous participation in protest actions where they had been identified by the law enforcement authorities.

The report clarifies that the current Belarusian law does provide citizens with full protection from arbitrary detention, and that any violation is punishable by law. However, this is unrealistic when the Prosecutor’s Office and the Investigatory Committee do not carry out proper investigations, despite it being their mandate.

There are no procedures to guarantee the rights of individuals detained in administrative cases. This leads to the complete diregard of individual rights by administrative bodies during proceedings and fosters illegal prosecutions.

Read FIDH press release