The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” demand to stop the cruel treatment and torture of the political detainee N. Likhovid

10/06/2011
Press release
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Paris-Minsk, June 9, 2011 — The Human Rights Center “Viasna” has learned that the 21 year old Nikita Likhovid, who is serving a 3.6 year term in a high security penal institution, in the city of Novopolotsk, after participating in a demonstration on December 19, 2010 in Minsk, was placed in a solitary confinement for the second time on May 27, 2011.

The reason for the solitary confinement is that, because he feels that he has been imprisoned illegally, he is refusing to sign off on or to fulfill the requirements of his detention.

It should be noted, that Nikita Likhovid was convicted on March 29th, 2011 in the Partizan District Court of the City of Minsk, of Article 293, Section 2 of the Republic of Belarus Criminal Code (participating in mass disorder), and sentenced to 3.6 years imprisonment for his participation in the protests held on December 19, 2010.

The Human Rights Center “Viasna”, FIDH member orgnisation in Belarus, monitored the court proceedings in the case of M. Likhavid, and came to the conclusion that the sentence handed down by the Partizan District Court of the City of Minsk, in the amount of 3 years and 6 months of incarceration, was illegal and politically motivated.

According to the information obtained, while in solitary confinement in the Novopolotsk Institution, N. Likhovid was subjected to cruel, inhumane treatment that degraded his human dignity, which amounted to torture.

The conditions in which the individuals placed in penal solitary confinement in Belarus are held have become a subject of harsh criticism of international and Belarus human rights organizations. FIDH also noted the conditions those detained in solitary confinement are subjected to in its report on the conditions of prisons in Belarus.1

During time spent in solitary confinement, the prisoners are not given any time to walk outside, are not provided with sleeping materials, and they are prevented from laying or sitting down on the cots (the cots are folded up into the walls during the daytime), nor are they allowed to lay down on the floor. Moreover, the prisoners are forbidden to have any warm things, despite the fact that the temperature in the solitary confinement facilities is frequently very low. The prisoners held in these facilities are, for all intents and purposes, deprived of sleep, frequently in a state of constant cold, and are deprived of any access to fresh air. These conditions clearly do not live up to the minimal international standards for the treatment of prisoners.

In the particular case of N. Likhovid, the solitary confinement cannot be viewed as anything other than an additional means of exerting pressure on him by the authorities of Belarus.

As a result, our organisations demand the following:

- A halt to the cruel treatment and torture, as well as any other psychological and physical coercion of Nikita Likhovid.
- Cessation of criminal proceedings against the participants of the peaceful demonstration held on December 19, 2010, and for the immediate and unconditional release of all those being held in detention in conjunction with this case, to pardon or give amnesty to all those already convicted and to remove any consequence of the conviction (criminal record and any possible limitations of their rights);
- To bring the conditions of those held in solitary confinement in penal institutions and prisons up to the international standards for the detention of prisoners.

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