Detention conditions of civil activist Zmitser Dashkevich get worse

Press release
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FIDH and its member organisation in Belarus, Human Rights Center “Viasna”, condemn Tuesday’s Mozyr District Court decision imposing punitive incarceration on Zmitser Dashkevich, leader of the civil and political organization Young Front, for the entire duration of his sentence. Such incarceration sees Dashkevich sent to a prison where conditions are even harsher than in penal colonies, including confinement to his cell 24 hours a day.

The Court took such decision alleging that Mr. Dashkevich has violated the internal rules of Mozyr penal colony, thus making him a “malicious rule breaker”. His current whereabouts are unknown, the name of his new prison not being disclosed.

Zmitser Dashkevich was initially sentenced on 24 March 2011 to two years of imprisonment on charges of “malicious hooliganism”, allegedly committed ahead of the presidential election of December 2010. On 28 August 2011, Hlybokae District Court held an on-site hearing in penal colony No. 13 in Hlybokae, finding the civil activist guilty of repeated failures to obey the prison administration (Part 1 of Article 411 of the Criminal Code). A further year’s sentence was imposed on Mr. Dashkevich, thus making it likely that he remain incarcerated until 28 August 2013.

FIDH and Viasna believe these decisions to be part of a general repressive trend in Belarus. They also consider this to be yet another episode of harassment against civil society, aimed at silencing the regime’s opponents and subjecting them to ever increasing pressure. Mozyr District Court’s decision brings the total number of political prisoners sent to prisons with extremely severe and restrictive conditions to four.

FIDH and Viasna urge the Belarusian authorities to end all harassment of Mr. Dashkevich and to immediately and unconditionally release him, and all political prisoners in Belarus.

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