Updated at 00:49,24-06-2021

Human Rights Watch calls for end to harassment of political prisoners


Human Rights Watch has called on the Belarusian authorities to end immediately all harassment and intimidation of political prisoners Ales Byalyatski and Zmitser Dashkevich.

In its statement, the rights watchdog urges Minsk to order an immediate investigation of all instances of "mistreatment of detainees held on politically motivated charges."

Referring to a report by a human rights group called Platforma, the organization says that Mr. Dashkevich, the 31-year-old leader of the Malady Front opposition group, has been subjected to repeated threats of physical violence, including rape and murder, by the administration of Correctional Institution No. 20 in Mazyr, Homyel region.

"Ales Bialiatski’s [Byalyatski's] colleagues and others have expressed concern that he is frequently subjected to psychological pressure and unfair punishments," the statement says.

"Mistreatment of detainees is prohibited under any circumstances," said Yulia Gorbunova, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. "These latest instances of harassment further demonstrate that the Belarusian authorities intend to continue retaliating against their critics even after they are thrown in jail."

"It is a complete disgrace that the authorities appear to be singling out detainees held on politically motivated charges and using them as bargaining chips in a political game," Ms. Gorbunova said. "The harassment of Bialiatski [Byalyatski], Dashkevich, and other detainees should stop immediately and all instances of mistreatment should be thoroughly investigated."