Continued arbitrary detention and acts of torture and ill-treatment against Nasta Loika

0

New information:

The Observatory has been informed of the acts of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated against Nasta Loika, as well as his continued arbitrary detention and judicial harassment. Ms Loika is a human rights defender who previously worked with Belarusian human rights groups liquidated by the authorities between July and October 2021 as part of the country’s broad offensive against civil society organizations and independent media. .

On November 14, 2022, the Pershamaisky District Court in Minsk sentenced Ms. Loika to 15 days of administrative detention for “petty hooliganism” (Article 19.1 of the Administrative Code of Belarus) after serving her previously imposed 15-day sentence. on October 31, 2022. This latest charge relates to Ms Loika’s alleged aggressive behavior while in custody, including being accused of “shouting and waving her arms, acting aggressively and defiantly”. The hearing was conducted online, and none of Ms. Loika’s or her attorney’s motions were granted.

During the November 14 hearing, Ms. Loika said she was tortured and ill-treated in detention. His allegations were dismissed and no investigation was opened into them. Specifically, on November 11, 2022, a detention center officer took Ms. Loika to the yard and left her outside without outerwear for eight hours with a temperature of around 8 degrees Celsius. As a result of this inhuman treatment, Ms. Loika became very ill. She was denied access to the drugs delivered to her at the detention center. Ms Loika was also denied access to warm clothing and personal hygiene products, and in early November 2022 agents from the Organized Crime Department used an electric taser against her during her examination.

At the time of publication of this urgent appeal, Nasta Loika was still being held in the temporary detention center on Akrestsina Street, where she was at risk of further torture and ill-treatment.

The Observatory recalls that Nasta Loika was kidnapped on October 28, 2022 by members of the Department for Combating Organized Crime and Extremism. On that day, the Belarusian security services published a video of Ms Loika in handcuffs on Telegram, where she allegedly confessed to having received funds from foreign organizations. On October 31, 2022, she appeared in the Pershamaiski District Court in Minsk via an online connection from the temporary detention center on Akrestsina Street and was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention for “petty hooliganism”.

The Observatory further recalls that Ms. Loika had been arbitrarily detained in September 2022 for 30 days on false charges of “petty hooliganism”, then released. Ms Loika had also been arbitrarily detained in August 2021 and charged with “aiding tax evasion”.

The reprisals against Ms Loika are part of a wider crackdown on civil society in Belarus. According to Viasna, as of November 18, 2022, 1,427 people remain detained in the country for political reasons, including the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Ales Bialiatski. In 2021 alone, authorities shut down more than 275 human rights organizations and other independent organizations, leaving no human rights NGOs operating legally in the country. In addition, legislative amendments to the Penal Code adopted in December 2021 reintroduced criminal liability for “acting on behalf of unregistered or liquidated organizations”. The liquidation of all independent human rights organizations by the authorities has therefore led to a de facto criminalization of human rights work.

The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, enshrined in international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Belarus, have been seriously and continuously violated by the authorities in recent years, destroying civil society in the country.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the aforementioned acts of torture and ill-treatment against Ms. Loika, and urges the Belarusian authorities to protect and respect her right not to be subjected to torture and to other ill-treatment, and to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the above allegations and hold those responsible accountable.

The Observatory further condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of Nasta Loika, which is intended solely to punish her for her legitimate human rights activities, and calls on the authorities of Belarus to release her and put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative levels, against her and against all other human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory further urges the authorities to immediately release all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Belarus and to guarantee their physical integrity and psychological well-being.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Belarus urging them to:

I. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Nasta Loika and all human rights defenders in Belarus, and respect and protect their right not to be subjected to torture and other ill-treatment;

ii. Conduct an immediate, thorough, transparent and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Nasta Loika, so that those responsible are held to account;

iii. Immediately and unconditionally release Nasta Loika and all other arbitrarily detained human rights defenders, as their detention is arbitrary and appears to be aimed merely at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment – including at the judicial and administrative levels – against Nasta Loika, and ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders can carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and without fear of reprisals

Addresses:

• Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, President of Belarus, Email: [email protected];

• Mr. Andrei Shved, Prosecutor General of Belarus, Email: [email protected];

• Mr. Dmitry Gora, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Belarus, Email: [email protected];

• Mr. Oleg Slizhevsky, Minister of Justice of Belarus, Email: [email protected];

• Mr. Vasily Gerasimov, Acting Chairman of the Belarusian State Audit Committee, Email: [email protected];

• Mr. Ivan Kubrakov, Minister of the Interior of Belarus, Email: [email protected];

• Mr. Yury Ambrazevich, Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: [email protected];

• Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, Email: [email protected]

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Belarus in your respective countries.

***

Geneva-Paris, November 18, 2022

Please let us know of any action taken by quoting the code for this appeal in your response.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this program is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union human rights mechanism set up by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

• Email: [email protected]

• Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

• Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39

Share.

Comments are closed.