Walter Shwimmer: CoE Thoroughly Monitors Belarusian Events
“Dear Mrs.Karpenko, Mrs.Zakharenko, Mrs.Gonchar, Mrs.Krasovskaya, Mrs.Klimova, Mrs.Zavadskaya!
I’ve read with great interest your letter of January 17, 2002. Let me reassure you that the Council of Europe is thoroughly keeping up with the situation development in Belarus and particularly your cases.
Some of my fellow-workers from the CoE Secretariat personally know the Interior Minister Yuri Zakharenko, chairman of the Electoral Commission Viktor Gonchar, TV correspondent Dmitry Zavadsky and Mr.Anatoly Krasovsky. We are deeply alarmed over the destiny of your husbands.
Members of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly, acquainted with the Parliament’s Vice-Speaker Gennady Karpenko, were awfully grieved by his early demise.
As concerns those, incarcerated for political reasons, I’ve recently appointed the independent experts from the Council of Europe, who established the following objective criteria for defining them as political prisoners:
“An individual, deprived of personal freedom, must be recognized as a “political inmate”:
a: if the arrest has been orchestrated in breach of some of the fundamental guarantees, established by the European Convention for human rights and its protocols (ECHR), in particular, the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assemblies and associations;
b: if the person has been arrested for purely political reasons without any link to real misdemeanor;
c: if for political motives the arrest term and its conditions proportionately do not correspond to the crime, of which a person has been proved guilty or is charged with;
d: if for political motives the arrest is a discrimination, as compared to measures, applied against the ones, who committed analogous misdemeanors;
e: if the detention was a result of clearly fabricated procedures, pursuing the authorities’ political goals.”
Moreover, the reliable juridical pundits maintain that the statement that someone is a “political prisoner” must be confirmed from the first sources (prima facie). Therefore, the state has to prove that the detention corresponds to all demands, set forth by the European court for human rights in accordance with the interpretation by the European court for human rights, that the demands of proportionality and impartiality have been taken into account and that the deprivation of freedom was a result of the fair trial.
We expect that all countries, striving for the CoE membership, will respect these demands.
Sincerely yours, Walter Shwimmer,
February 22, 2002”