The Investigative Committee’s response to the appeal on mass torture in Belarus


The Investigative Committee has responded to BHC’s communication regarding mass torture in Belarus.

The response is as follows: 

Since your communication contains no information about specific crimes and other circumstances, there are no grounds for the Investigative Committee for conducting an audit specifically on this appeal and making decisions as prescribed by the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Republic of Belarus.

We should remind that human rights defenders demanded that the torture be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice. BHC drew the Investigative Committee’s attention to the fact that all the necessary data to initiate a criminal case is available.

Belarusian Helsinki Committee’s position

Firstly we have to recall that according to Article 12 of the Convention against Torture, each State party shall ensure that its competent authorities carry out prompt and impartial investigations when there are reasonable grounds to believe that torture was committed in any territory under its jurisdiction. We believe that a prompt and effective investigation in accordance with national law is only possible within the framework of criminal proceedings.

In accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPC), criminal proceedings may be initiated if there are sufficient reasons and grounds.

The reason is our communication (communication of state bodies, other organizations under paragraph 3 of Article 166 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Art. 170 CPC), as well as numerous statements of citizens about the use of torture, violence and ill-treatment (at the time the communication was filed, more than 700 such statements were known to be submitted to regional departments of the Investigative Committee), a lot of crimes reported in the media. 

The grounds is a sufficient amount of data available indicating elements of the offence in the absence of circumstances precluding criminal proceedings. 

We are convinced that the Investigative Committee currently has enough data to initiate a criminal case. This includes numerous statements of citizens about torture received by the regional departments of the Investigative Committee. In addition, there are publications in the media, numerous photos and videos, as well as medical documentation proving the nature and severity of injuries and the circumstances in which they were sustained.

Instead of making a reasoned and lawful procedural decision, the Investigative Committee misinterpreted our communication filed in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code as an application filed in accordance with the Law “On Citizens’ Applications and Legal Persons’ Applications”.

Under the law of criminal procedure, one of the following procedural decisions should be made following the statement or report of a crime: decision to institute criminal proceedings; refusal to initiate criminal proceedings; decision to pass a communication to the investigative jurisdiction. None of the above decisions were made. 

We will appeal against the actions of Sergey Tishuk, the Head of the General Directorate of Procedural Control of the Investigative Committee, in due course.

It is clear to us that the law enforcement system demonstrates its reluctance to respond lawfully to the evidence of torture, violence and ill-treatment that were obviously used against individuals for political reasons.