UN urges Belarus to release youngsters jailed for drug offences amid COVID-19 crisis

Soaring number ofCOVID19 cases in Belarus should compel the authorities to immediately release children and young people imprisoned for drug-related offences, UN human rights experts said on May, 8.

The government of Belarus must take urgent action to protect the health and safety of people in detention, in particular of children and young people convicted to disproportionately long prison terms – up to 12 years – for drug-related offences,” the statement reads.

According to them, children should be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.

The experts called on the Belarus authorities to ‘avoid by all means the detention of children, to release those who do not pose a threat to society, and to develop models and responses alternative to detention, which is especially necessary in light of the COVID-19 pandemic’.

As of May 8, Belarusian health professionals registered 21,101 persons infected with the novel coronavirus; 121 patients have died.