Torture of suspects in Belarus 'widespread': UN

25th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

The UN's torture monitor on Friday condemned Belarus over evidence that abuse of suspects detained by the state is widespread.

The Committee Against Torture (CAT) said it had received numerous reports of security officials torturing and threatening people held in custody.

"According to the reliable information presented to the Committee, many persons deprived of their liberty are tortured, ill-treated and threatened by law enforcement officials, especially at the moment of apprehension and during pre-trial detention," it said.

Officers are often in plain clothes, making identification impossible, the watchdog added.

It cited allegations made by former presidential candidates Andrei Sannikov and Vladimir Neklyaev that they were tortured by masked men ahead of their trials earlier this year.

They were among five opposition candidates charged with organising disturbances in the wake of the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko in December last year.

The 10-member panel said it had also received allegations of "serious acts of intimidation, reprisals and threats against human rights defenders and journalists".

The report issued at the end of the panel's 47th session in Geneva said the Belarus government should act immediately to protect detainees and prosecute torture suspects.

The committee gave Belarus until November 25 next year to respond to the recommendations.

The ex-Soviet republic is the only European country that does not belong to the Council of Europe, which promotes democracy and human rights.

The European Union and the Council of Europe on Thursday condemned the jailing in Minsk of leading human rights figure Ales Beliatsky for tax fraud.

© 2011 AFP

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