20 June 2019, Thursday, 9:25
We are in the same boat

Ales Bialiatski Appeals To Prosecutor General’s Office With Regard To Mass Detention of Roma


A human rights defender demands holding of a prosecutor’s check.

Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Ales Bialiatski sent a statement to the Prosecutor General's Office with a request to check the legality of the detention of citizens of the Roma nationality on May 16 in Mahiliou, reports the website of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”.

From numerous reports in a number of media outlets, it became known that on May 16, 2019 in Mahiliou, as a result of a police raid, which was carried out as part of a criminal investigation into the alleged killing of a traffic police officer Yauhen Patapovich, mass detentions of the Roma citizens occurred.

In total, during this raid, representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs detained about 100 people in the places of compact residence of representatives of the mentioned nationality: women, minors and men. Some of them were later released, and the men, in the amount of about 50 people, were detained for three days. As it became known later, in relation to the detainees, administrative processes were initiated allegedly for petty hooliganism.

Given the circumstances and place of their detention (at the place of their direct residence), this indicates their illegal, arbitrary nature.

“Obviously, since the investigatory authorities lacked legal grounds listed in Article 108 of the Criminal Procedural Code for detaining citizens as suspects, someone decided to detain them in connection with the alleged commission of administrative offenses, namely petty hooliganism. This made it possible for the investigatory authorities to keep the detainees as persons in respect of whom the administrative process is being conducted for up to three days and interrogate them in the framework of the criminal case with violation of legal guarantees and procedures provided for by the current Criminal Procedural Code of the Republic of Belarus, ” writes the Chairman of “Viasna”.

Ales Bialiatski notes that all detentions occurred solely on a national basis. In addition, according to the testimonies of numerous eyewitnesses and victims, the detentions were accompanied by the use of physical force, insults and intimidation.

In his opinion, the information voiced by the media about the possible involvement of representatives of the Roma nationality in the alleged killing of a traffic police officer, in combination with such demonstrative actions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, could lead to serious dangerous consequences for this national group.

“I believe that this situation demanded a corresponding reaction of representatives of both local and republican authorities aimed at preventing possible escalation of interethnic conflict,” the human rights activist said in a statement.

The facts of ethnic profiling of the representatives of the Roma national minority by the law -enforcement agencies are systematic in Belarus.

The human rights activist recalls that international organizations have repeatedly drawn attention to these facts. Thus, in the concluding observations of the fifth periodic report of Belarus, adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee following the consideration of the corresponding periodic report of the Republic of Belarus on October 8 and 9, 2018, the Committee noted in particular that the State party should take effective measures to tackle the discrimination of the Roma, as well as to combat incitement to hatred towards them and to eradicate racial profiling by the law-enforcement agencies.

According to Bialiatski, mass detentions of representatives of the Roma national minority only on the basis of their nationality indicate a continuation of these negative practices in our country.

In this regard, guided by the provisions of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Belarus”, he asks to:

- Conduct a prosecutor's check on the legality of the detention of citizens of the Roma nationality by the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on May 16, 2019 in the city of Mahiliou and take appropriate measures of prosecutor's response.

- Carefully consider the unreasonable use of force, physical violence, the failure to render necessary assistance in relation to the detainees, the conditions of their detention.

- Inform in writing about the results of the consideration of this application in the manner and within the deadlines established by the current legislation on citizens' appeals.