A special platform has been created for Belarus to bring those responsible to justice.
The International Platform for Bringing Perpetrators to Account for Belarus (IAPB) will transfer the collected evidence for further investigation under the auspices of the UN, said the head of the platform Jens Modwig.
The IAPB was created to collect, verify, and store data on serious human rights violations in Belarus in the run-up to and after the 2020 presidential elections to then use them for independent criminal investigation and punishment of those responsible. The platform brings together human rights organizations mainly from European countries. It is headed by the Danish Institute against Torture Dignity and, in particular, its medical director Jens Modwig.
As Modvig noted to DW, the Dignity Institute decided to participate in this project because it employs experts in the medical and legal documentation of torture. “This is a good opportunity for expert organizations to contribute to documenting and investigating gross violations of human rights in Belarus along with intergovernmental mechanisms under the auspices of the UN and to help collect evidence while they still exist,” the expert said. "In particular, medical examination of the use of torture and ill-treatment is only possible for a few days or weeks, so the documentation should be done as quickly as possible."
The platform started working on March 24. At this stage, according to Modwig, "formats and procedures are being developed that will then be applied to validate existing cases, as well as to continuously collect new data."
The collection and verification of information are carried out "in close cooperation with Belarusian human rights organizations, which have already collected many cases of torture and continue to do so despite the repressions." "These data are at our disposal, and it will be updated in the coming months. Within the framework of the platform, we will further work to improve the efficiency of their collection and analysis," said the head of the IAPB.
According to him, the platform will act as a preparatory mechanism until the mechanism for collecting evidence on human rights violations in Belarus launched at the UN begins to work. "Accordingly, we will hand over the collected evidence for further investigation under the auspices of the UN. That is, the goals are the same, " commented Modvig.
He stressed that "this platform is unprecedented." "And although all participating organizations have extensive experience in documenting human rights violations, for the first time such a consortium, with the support of a large number of countries, was created to fill the gap until the UN-based international documentation and investigation mechanism starts working," the expert said.
According to Modvig, the 19 countries that supported the creation of the platform provide only funding but "are not directly involved in its work." "I’m sure they will all be watching it closely, but they cannot influence it," he said.
Among the difficulties in the work of the platform, the representative of Dignity named “the safety of victims of torture, witnesses, and human rights defenders in Belarus,” who, according to him, “are under threat due to repression by the regime.” “The platform should work, while the risk for all involved should be minimal,” the expert said.
He also stressed that "the platform will in no way replace the function of prosecutors and judges." "We will collect material that can be used as evidence in subsequent criminal investigations. Then the prosecutors will be able to provide this material in court," said Modwig. "Unfortunately, we do not expect that the Belarusian authorities will participate in the criminal prosecution of those who are guilty of human rights violations in the foreseeable future. Therefore, justice can be achieved either through international mechanisms or through universal jurisdiction. If this becomes possible, then those who are united by the platform will cooperate within the framework of such mechanisms."
Modwig expressed the hope that "all those responsible for serious violations of human rights will soon be brought to justice in one way or another."