Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Dashkevich urges prosecutors to attend to "inhumane" treatment of prisoners

Imprisoned opposition activist Zmitser Dashkevich has petitioned the Prosecutor General's Office to attend to the "inhumane" treatment of inmates of Belarusian detention centers and correctional facilities.

In his open letter to the Office, the 31-year-old leader of an opposition youth group called Malady Front stresses that the mistreatment of prisoners is prohibited by the constitution and laws.
Belarusian prisons and detention centers have turned into places where inmates have all of their human features destroyed through moral and physical violence, the activist writes.

Mr. Dashkevich cites instances of inhuman treatment. In particular, he says, inmates are prohibited from using spoons at Pretrial Detention Center No. 2 in Vitsyebsk. Instead, they have to use toothpaste tubes or toothbrush containers as a spoon.

"The Belarusian prison has the primary task of humiliating, morally trampling on the person," the letter says.

As Anastasiya Palazhanka, Mr. Dashkevich's girlfriend, told BelaPAN, the activist wrote the letter during his stay at Correctional Institution No. 20 in Mazyr, where he was said to be subjected to abuse by prison administrators.

Mr. Dashkevich was arrested in Minsk on December 18, 2010, on the eve of a scheduled large-scale post-election demonstration, for allegedly beating up two passers-by. Speaking during his trial, Mr. Dashkevich said that the incident was a provocation orchestrated by authorities and accused the two alleged victims of giving false testimony.

On March 24, 2011, he was sentenced to two years in a minimum-security correctional institution on a charge of "especially malicious hooliganism."

In September 2011, he refused an offer of freedom in exchange for asking Alyaksandr Lukashenka for a presidential pardon.

In a closed-door trial held in a prison in the Vitsyebsk region at the end of August 2012, Mr. Dashkevich was found guilty of persistent violation of prison rules under Part One of the Criminal Code's Article 411 and sentenced to a one-year prison term. The remaining four months of the previously imposed prison term were included in the new term.

A judge ruled earlier this week that Mr. Dashkevich should be moved to a higher-security prison.