On 19 July, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to the Minsk Prosecutor's Office concerning a review of detention conditions in the Akrestsin Street Detention Centre and the Temporary Detention Centre of the Minsk Executive Committee’s Main Internal Affairs Directorate, as well as the lawfulness of restrictions imposed on parcels for detainees and those serving administrative arrest. Human rights activists asked the Prosecutor's Office to take the necessary measures within its competence (inter alia, to lift the restriction on parcels as unlawful), as well as to check the conditions of detention for detained and administratively arrested persons in the Temporary Detention Centre of the Minsk Executive Committee’s Main Internal Affairs Directorate.
The Minsk City Prosecutor's Office left this appeal without consideration.
According to the reply signed by Vladimir Krukovsky, Head of the Department for Supervision of the implementation of legislation and lawfulness of legal acts of the Minsk City Prosecutor's Office, the BHC cannot raise such questions in its appeals, since we do not have the authority to make appeals in the interest of citizens (Note: BHC — in accordance with art. 20 of the “Law on public associations”, it does not work like that).
In response to this reply, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to the General Prosecutor's Office.
In their appeal, human rights defenders claim that “the Minsk City Prosecutor's Office is evading the main obligations that the state entrusted it to perform, namely ensuring the rule of law, legality and order, protecting the rights and legitimate interests of citizens and organizations, as well as public and state interests.”
Human rights defenders request the General Prosecutor’s Office:
to declare the response of the Minsk City Prosecutor's Office as illegal and unjustified;
to mandate the lower-level prosecutor's office to consider the appeal of the BHC on the merits, to check the detention conditions of those detained and serving an administrative arrest in the Akrestsin Street Detention Centre and the Temporary Detention Centre of the Minsk Executive Committee’s Main Internal Affairs Directorate; to verify the lawfulness of decisions to limit parcels to 1 item per week; take appropriate measures to eliminate violations of law in these institutions; to prosecute the perpetrators of violations as stipulated by law.
to take action against the prosecution officials who avoided considering the appeal on the merits, which is not consistent with law and condones the ongoing violation of citizens' rights.
We remind that at the time we filed our appeal, Dmitri Brylyov, a representative of the General Prosecutor’s Office, has mentioned the following in his response to a journalist of Narodnaya Volya on how to stop torture in the Akrestsin Centre: “ Of course, we are monitoring the media as well, and I should stress that we thank you for this beacon. But when a journalist addresses the issue, it's a different case. Nowadays, all information needs to be double-checked, there are a lot of fakes. Besides, there is always the law on the Citizens' Appeals Act, and it works. And those who were actually afflicted can appeal to the relevant authorities. Another question is why they don’t do this. Maybe they don’t want to, or maybe there’s no reason… We need to figure it out... I will, of course, inform those of my colleagues who are in charge of this. But people themselves should take the stand and tell when, in what period of time they could not get this and that, and how specifically their rights were violated.”
Later, zerkalo.io published the stories of those who had sent written complaints about the detention conditions in Minsk and Zhodino. In summary, nothing happened following the complaints.
P.s. We recommend that those who have been in the Akrestsino Center and faced unbearable conditions send written complaints to the prosecutor's office and request that the lawfulness of the detention conditions be verified.
We also emphasise that the applicants have the right to acquaint themselves with the documents used to verify the grounds of their application. We recommend using this right in order to find out if the action took place. To do this, you may make a written request about where and how you can acquaint yourself with the relevant documents. An official response to such a request has to be given.
In case of gross violations, including physical violence, criminal proceedings should be required.
The BHC stands ready to help with such complaints. Please, send your email to [email protected]