Appeal to the UN Special Procedures regarding the death of Mikalai Klimovich

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The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has informed the UN Special Rapporteurs on the right to health, the rights of persons with disabilities, the human rights situation in Belarus, and the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons of the death of political prisoner Mikalai Klimovich (Mikałaj Klimovič) in Penal Colony N3 and the inhuman treatment of political prisoners, including the elderly and those with disabilities.

In our statement, we emphasized that the death of Mikalai Klimovich is in no way the first case of death of political prisoners in Belarusian penitentiaries. Furthermore, human rights activists continuously report the lack of proper medical examination, qualified medical personnel, appropriate conditions and equipment, as well as failure to provide medical assistance. We also described the practice of denying medical care for political prisoners to apply further pressure.

We drew the Special Rapporteurs' attention to the non-compliance with constitutional and international standards on the right to life and the right to health in Belarus. We pointed out that, in accordance with UN General Comment no. 36, the obligation of the State to protect the lives of all prisoners and detainees includes providing them with necessary medical care and adequate regular monitoring of their health, protecting them from inter-prisoner violence, preventing suicide and providing reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.

We have sent information on the issues of elderly political prisoners to the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons before as a response to her request (2023) to organize a Human Rights Council on Violence, Abuse, and Neglect of the Elderly.

The material demonstrates the failure of the penitentiary institutions to fulfill their duties, as well as the persistent violation of prisoners' rights, and the disregard for international standards and the requirements of national law for the treatment of prisoners.

According to the BHC, the death of Mikalai Klimovich is the result of the negligent and brutal treatment of prisoners by the penal colony authorities, the use of repressive measures, including denial of medical care, against political prisoners in order to punish and intimidate them, and the absolute impunity of prison staff.