258 persons recognised as political prisoners in Belarus

Another seven names have been added to the list being updated by Belarusian human rights defenders since the summer of 2020.

On Friday, nine Belarusian human rights watchdogs issued a joint statement on the back of a number of recent trials which, according to them, proved that the courts handed down excessively harsh (disproportionate to the offense) sentences, as compared to similar sentences pronounced in the same categories of trials outside the political context.

Guided by paragraph 3.2 (a, b, c, d) of the Guidelines for the Definition of Political Prisoners, Belarusian human rights activists consider the following convicts as political prisoners: Mikita Kharlovich (sentenced to 5 years in prison); Dzmitry Tsimashenka (sentenced to 2.5 years); Alyaksandr Dzyarkach (sentenced to 4 years); Yuliya Kashaverava (sentenced to 1.5 years); Alyaksandr Karatchenya (sentenced to 1.5 years in prison); Natallya Rayentava (sentenced to eight months in prison); Mikita Zalatarou (minor, sentenced to five years in prison).

They assessed the persecution of the citizens mentioned above as politically motivated, as it is solely connected with the exercise of their freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.

The country’s human rights community calls on the authorities to immediately release all the political prisoners and stop their criminal prosecution. As of 26 February, 258 persons have been recognised as prisoners of conscience in Belarus.

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