The Observation Mission of the International Committee for Monitoring the Human Rights Situation in Belarus has expressed "deep concern" about the reported maltreatment of Dzmitry Bandarenka, Mikita Likhavid and Andrey Sannikaw who are serving prison sentences after being convicted in connection with the December 19, 2010 post-election protest in Minsk.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Observation Mission accused the Belarusian authorities of violating UN treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that contains an express right to humane treatment in detention, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders in 1955.
The Observation Mission is particularly concerned about reports that young post-election protester Mikita Likhavid has repeatedly been placed in a disciplinary cell, former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw fears for his life after being subjected to torture while in pre-trial detention, while his ailing associate Dzmitry Bandarenka has been forced to give his consent to back surgery that would not be followed by a proper rehabilitation course.
The Observation Mission has demanded an urgent investigation into all the reports of the cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of the prisoners and called on the Belarusian authorities to allow Mr. Bandarenka a consultation with competent doctors and ensure that he will undergo proper rehabilitation following the operation. It also demanded that the authorities comply with international standards for the treatment of prisoners and detainees.
"We believe that Belarus should contribute to the adoption of complex measures against torture in prisons by signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and applying to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for admission to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment," the Observation Mission added.