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Belarus

    June 12, 2017

    Photo credit: via Crime Russia website.

     

    Murad Amriev was handed over to Russian law enforcement officers at 3am on 9 June after having been returned from Belarus where he unsuccessfully attempted to claim asylum. He has been released on bail on condition that he does not leave Chechnya.

    At 12pm on 9 June the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya reported that at 3am Murad Amriev had been handed over to officers from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya. On 10 June it was reported in the media that Murad Amriev had been released on bail on condition that he would not leave Chechnya.

    March 24, 2017

    Belarusian authorities must ensure that rallies planned in the capital Minsk and elsewhere on Freedom Day, 25 March, are allowed to go ahead unhindered by excessive use of police force or arbitrary detentions of peaceful protesters such as those witnessed in recent weeks, Amnesty International said.

    This year’s turnout is expected to be the largest in years, fueled by public discontent over a punitive bill against the jobless and a notable drop in living standards in Belarus.

    “Belarusian authorities must honour their international obligations and finally come to recognize peaceful protest as a fundamental right. In practice this means refraining from banning public rallies, using force against peaceful protesters or otherwise persecuting them,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Public officials must stop depicting dissenters as a ‘fifth column’, and instead ensure the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly for all.”

    March 13, 2017

    Belarusian authorities arrested dozens of peaceful protesters and journalists across the country over the weekend in a massive escalation of their crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said today.

    According to media reports, at least 48 protesters, including civil society leaders and independent journalists, were detained on 10, 11 and 12 March in connection with protests in the cities of Babruisk, Kobryn, Brest, Luninets and Maladzechna. The “We are not spongers” marches were called against a so-called “social parasite” tax imposed on unemployed people.

    “With basic freedoms strangled in Belarus, it has been years since we saw protests of this scale, which appear to have taken the Belarusian authorities by surprise,” said John Dalhuisen, Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

    November 30, 2016

    As many as three of the four men on death row in the Belarusian capital Minsk have been executed in a shameful purge since 5 November, Amnesty International revealed today after confirming with local activists.

    Hard on the heels of this news the organization is launching a new online petition and video aimed at stamping out the use of the death penalty in Belarus – the last country in Europe and the former Soviet Union to still carry out executions.

    “Purging death row of its prisoners is an appalling measure for any country to take. But it is additionally shameful in Belarus, where executions are typically shrouded in secrecy and carried out at a moment’s notice,” said Aisha Jung, Campaigner on Belarus at Amnesty International, who recently returned from Minsk.

    “This sudden spike in executions is especially surprising in Belarus, the death penalty’s final frontier in Europe, since many believed the country was on track to eliminate capital punishment for good.”

    July 08, 2016

    By Joshua Franco, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International

    “In principle if I am talking indoors, or on the phone, or writing emails, I assume it all gets to the KGB(Belarus state security). So I don’t worry about it, I talk openly and say only what I would say if there were a KGB agent sitting next to me.”

    This is what an activist in Belarus told me when I asked them about the reality of living with the threat of surveillance.

    I had travelled there to see for myself whether the human rights situation had improved after a huge crackdown on activists in 2010, and what role surveillance played in this, for a new Amnesty International report on this subject. I was surprised at first how many of my conversations with activists started out with people telling me they had “nothing to hide,” and were doing “nothing illegal.”

    But if many of these activists had been arrested or imprisoned merely for speaking out against the government, or for protesting. Did they really feel they had nothing to hide?

    July 07, 2016

    Austrian, Turkish and other telecoms firms facilitate illegal government spying

    Belarus authorities are using phone networks run by some of the world’s biggest telecoms companies to stifle free speech and dissent, said Amnesty International in a report published today.

    The report, “It’s enough for people to feel it exists: Civil society, secrecy and surveillance in Belarus”, documents how potentially limitless, round-the-clock, unchecked surveillance has a debilitating effect on NGO activists, making basic work, like arranging a meeting over the phone, a risk.

    “In a country where holding a protest or criticizing the president can get you arrested, even the threat that the authorities are spying on you can make the work of activists next to impossible,” said Joshua Franco, Technology and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    May 11, 2016

    Amnesty International strongly condemns the execution of 22-year old Siarhei Ivanou in Belarus. He is the first person known to have been executed since November 2014.

    Siarhei Ivanou was executed on the night of 18 April. In March 2015 he was sentenced to death having been convicted of the murder of a 19-year old woman in 2013. The UN Human Rights Committee had requested a stay of execution while it considered his case.  Such requests are binding on state parties to the First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Belarus acceded to in 1992. Despite that, and in contravention of Belarus’ human rights obligations, Siarhei Ivanou was executed.

    Siarhei Ivanou’s family only learned of his execution in May, after the sentence had been implemented. They were not given any warning or granted a final meeting with him. In keeping with Belarusian law, his body will not be returned to them for burial, nor will his place of burial be disclosed. His personal belongings have not yet been returned to them. They are now required to collect his death certificate from the Belarusian authorities.

    May 02, 2014

    The Belarusian government has scored its own goal by cracking down on civil society in a bid to silence dissenters ahead of the Ice Hockey World Championship, which opens 9 May in Minsk, said Amnesty International as it starts a new campaign calling for the immediate release of peaceful activists.

    Civil society activists are currently working in an atmosphere of heightened repression in Belarus. In the last 10 days, 16 have been arrested and detained.

    “Instead of cleaning up their act ahead of the championship, the Belarusian authorities have preferred to silence those they feared would expose abuses. As criticism is increasingly quashed within Belarus, it must come more forcefully from abroad,” said John Dalhuisen, Director of the Europe and Central Asia programme at Amnesty International.

    October 24, 2013

    The President of the Republic of Belarus must introduce an immediate moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the use of the death penalty. Amnesty International reiterated its call while welcoming the fact that earlier this week the country’s Supreme Court overturned a death sentence.

    “A step in the right direction has been made. It has to be followed by the introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty until this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is abolished,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Belarus.

    “Amnesty understands that part of the court’s reasoning was based on fair trial concerns. If this is the case, the Supreme Court of the Republic Belarus has demonstrated the important role that the judiciary can play in ensuring strict adherence to fair trial standards. This is particulary important in a country that continues to  impose death sentences.”

    September 30, 2013

    Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian human rights activist and a prisoner of conscience, was awarded the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize in recognition for his work to improve the human rights situation in his country and for the great personal risk he took in the process, Amnesty International said today.

    “The prize that Ales Bialiatski received today recognises his courageous human rights work in the face of adversity and for the great personal sacrifices he has made. It is also an indictment against the Belarusian authorities for their persecution of human rights activists and their attacks on freedom of association, assembly and expression,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Belarus.

    Ales Bialiatski is currently serving a four and a half year sentence for his human rights activities as Head of the Human Rights Centre Viasna in Belarus. The organization campaigns against the death penalty, torture and other ill-treatment, and on behalf of political prisoners.

    August 04, 2013

    The last time Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian human rights activist received a prison visit or a food parcel was last February.

    “They give you just enough (food) to make sure you don’t die, but it is a diet with very little vitamins and inevitably affects your health. Last year Ales never got any fresh vegetables or fruit,” his wife Natalia Pinchuk recently told Amnesty International.

    Today is the second anniversary of his arrest on 4 August 2011. He is currently serving a four and a half year jail sentence for using his personal bank accounts in Lithuania and Poland to fund the Human Rights Centre Viasna. The organization was not officially recognized by the Belarusian government and could not hold a bank account in the country.

    Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for his peaceful actions to defend human rights. It believes his trial was deeply flawed and the sentence, politically motivated as part of a strategy to stop his human rights work.

    May 02, 2013

     Belarus authorities must stop the execution of a man who was this week sentenced to death for murder, Amnesty International said.

    The homeless man originally from Ukraine, who has not been named, is a jail inmate who was sentenced on 30 April for killing a fellow prisoner in Mahiliou, eastern Belarus.

    The death sentence enters into force on 3 May, and the man could be executed within months.

    Amnesty International has longstanding concerns about the right to a fair trial in Belarus, the only country in Europe and Central Asia that still carries out executions.

    Death row prisoners are not informed beforehand about the day of their execution.

    "Belarus' status at Europe's sole executor is shameful. The authorities must immediately commute this death sentence and establish an official moratorium on executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty," said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    Two prisoners were sentenced on Tuesday in connection with the murder of a prisoner by a group of inmates.

    April 18, 2013

    Civil society is being suppressed in Belarus by a repressive government that will not tolerate any form of criticism, Amnesty International said today.  
     
    The report, What is not permitted is prohibited: Silencing civil society in Belarus, shows how the authorities in Belarus regularly deny the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, preventing people from speaking out in public, holding demonstrations or setting up civil organizations. Peaceful demonstrators frequently face fines or even prison sentences.
     
    “Over the past 20 years, the government of Belarus has increasingly suffocated all aspects of civil society, depriving its people of the opportunity to express their opinions, to contribute to public debate and ultimately to act as a check on the authorities,” said Heather McGill, Amnesty International’s researcher on Belarus.
     

    March 14, 2013

    The bodies of two men executed a year ago in Belarus must be released to their relatives for burial or the burial site should be revealed, Amnesty International said today.

    Uladzslau Kavalyou and Dzmitry Kanavalau were executed in March 2012 in Minsk, capital of Belarus. They had been sentenced to death on 30 November 2011 after being found guilty in connection to a bomb attack in Minsk that killed 15 people and wounded more than 300 in April 2011.

    Their trial has been criticized for failing to meet international fair trial standards.

    According to the death certificate received by his mother, Uladzslau Kavalyou died on 15 March 2012. On 16 March, she received a letter from the Belarusian Supreme Court informing her that her son had been executed.

    “The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a human rights violation. Failing to return the bodies of these two men compounds that cruelty,” said David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

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