The United Nations Resident Coordinator Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki and Senior Human Rights Advisor Omer Fisher met on 2 October 2020 with the Deputy Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Belarus Gennadi Kazakevich, as well as with representatives of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Investigative Committee, and the General Prosecutor’s Office.
The Resident Coordinator expressed concern about large scale and undue restrictions on freedom of peaceful assembly in the country, the detention of large numbers of peaceful demonstrators, excessive use of force by police officers during detentions, as well as allegations of torture or other ill-treatment in police custody which continue to emerge. In addition, she raised concern about the limited information on any steps undertaken by the authorities to investigate allegations of torture or other ill-treatment or of other police misconduct.
UN representatives noted that no circumstances whatsoever can justify torture or any other form of ill-treatment. They stressed that State authorities must allow and facilitate the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly and that peaceful protesters and journalists should not be detained.
UN representatives enquired about any criminal investigations as well as disciplinary proceedings, opened in connection with allegations of torture or other ill-treatment, or any excessive or unnecessary use of force by police officers.
In addition, UN representatives enquired about any reviews of police tactics in light of the significant number of injuries, as well as casualties, among protesters and about any reviews of policies regarding the identification of law enforcement officers using visible name tags or individual numbers on uniforms.
The Resident Coordinator reminded Belarus of the need for open, inclusive and transparent dialogue on how Belarus can meet its human rights commitments. In this spirit, the UN Resident Coordinator reiterated her request to visit two detention facilities in Minsk to assess the conditions of detention there.