The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has sent information to the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture, on freedom of expression and opinion, on the right to health, on the right to privacy and on the human rights situation in Belarus on the practice of public arrests of teenagers and the publication of "penitential" videos with the participation of children. The submission described 3 cases of demonstrative detention of teenagers in front of their peers, and also gave examples of "penitential" videos.
In the sent message, we drew attention to the degrading and traumatic nature of these practices. The BHC stressed that the victims in this case were children – an extremely vulnerable group, which increased the negative effect of such "public executions". We pointed out that both detained teenagers and those who were forced to watch public detentions or "penitential" videos could experience severe psychological trauma, causing problems with social adaptation and full-fledged development, as well as with the formation of perception and awareness of personal dignity.
According to the BHC, these practices, first of all, are a violation of the right to freedom from degrading treatment (Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). We also drew attention to the violation of the right to privacy (Article 16 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child) and the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others (Article 40 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child). The submission highlighted the violation of the right to education, which should also be aimed at the full development of the human personality and the creation of its dignity and should strengthen respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms (Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights).
The Committee on the Rights of the Child also confirmed the inadmissibility of such practices, pointing out that the materials of children's cases should be strictly confidential, and that children should be protected from publishing information about the crimes they had committed.
The BHC asked the Special Rapporteurs to contact the Belarusian authorities with a reminder of the need to respect their international obligations concerning the rights of the child, with a call to stop these practices and guarantee the development of children in conditions of respect for human dignity and human rights.