Belarus : Report on preventive detention presented at press conference in Minsk

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Minsk, 15 October 2015 - Human Rights Center "Viasna" held a press conference devoted to preventive arrests in Belarus.

Human rights defenders have worked on the issue for over a year. After the Ice Hockey World Championships in June 2014 FIDH and HRC ’Viasna’ organised a mission to Belarus to investigate it further. The report “Arbitrary Preventive Detention of Activists in Belarus” is a result of this mission.

Preventive arrests is defined as the arbitrary detention of citizens, without legal grounds, on the eve of important political or social events in order to isolate the activists to prevent their participation in public street actions, relations with international delegations or press and other kinds of political and civic engagement.

At the conference, the deputy head of the HRC "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovic reminded that the history of the problem started in 2006. "In 2006, on the eve of the presidential election, the government made considerable use of arbitrary preventive arrests, mainly of the activists of the election headquarters of presidential candidates Milinkevich and Kazulin. And on 19 March 2006, a few days before the election, according to our information, 236 people have been subjected to arbitrary preventive detention. Basically, they were accused by the article "Disorderly conduct" for "using obscene language in a public place" , he said.

One of the latest examples of the use of arbitrary preventive arrests human rights activists was before the Ice Hockey World Championship, held in May in Minsk. "Now arbitrary preventive detention can be seen as political persecution, along with the political criminal prosecution, and is used by the authorities to prosecute activists because of their affiliation to the different political groups and the implementation of their peaceful political activities " - summed Valentin Stefanovich.

A guest of the press conference - the coordinator of the campaign "European Belarus" Maxim Viniarski shared his own experiences. This year he is one of the "champions", with a total of 57 days spent in under preventive detenetion.

"When I lived at home, all the time before any event representatives of the police department started to visit me, asked my mother to tell where they can find me, they said "we are doing just talk with him... It’s either Special Police Force or drug enforcement, or criminal investigation. Once you are arrested, you are almost completely excluded from the legal field. Your rights don’t bother anybody", explained Maxim Viniarsku.

Due to recurrent preventive arrests, most of civic activists now cannot live where they are registered.

At the press conference FIDH and HRC "Viasna" called for the end of persecution of Pavel Vinahradau. Human rights activists announced a campaign on social networks for the liberation of civil activist who this year has already been sentenced to 65 days in prison as a result of arbitrary preventive detention.

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