A joint statement by human rights activists on the recognition of Ivan Komar and Nikita Emelyanov as political prisoners and demanding to immediately review the sentences of activists was published on the Vesna HR site .
The verdict of the court of the Sovetsky district of Minsk on February 12, 2020, the anarchists Nikita Emelyanov and Ivan Komar were sentenced to seven years in prison each for damage to property in public places (Article 341 of the Criminal Code), attempted intentional damage to property and intentional damage to property committed in a generally dangerous way (part 1 of article 14 of part 2 of article 218 of the Criminal Code, part 2 of article 218 of the Criminal Code), illegal actions in relation to items whose damaging effect is based on the use of combustible substances (part 2 of article 295-3 of the Criminal Code )
The blame for Emelyanova and Komaru was the throwing of light bulbs with the facade of the Minsk City Court in September 2019 and two episodes of using a combustible mixture (one failed) to set fire to the doors of the detention center in October 2019 in Minsk.
Nikita Emelyanov did not deny his participation in all three actions and stated that the purpose of his actions was to draw attention to political prisoners in Belarus, expressing disagreement with the current system and repressions for freedom of opinion.
Ivan Komar denied his active participation in the rallies and stated that he had been subjected to ill-treatment and pressured by representatives of the GUBOPiK Ministry of Internal Affairs and others to write a confession.
Regarding the statement of Ivan Komar on the application of psychological and physical pressure, no proper investigation has been carried out. The court did not suspend consideration of the case in order to clarify the circumstances of the ill-treatment at the request of Komar. In such circumstances, the reliability and admissibility of the evidence that was obtained from the interrogation of the accused, and then formed the basis of the conviction, is doubtful.
In accordance with article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
In accordance with Art. 19 of the Covenant, everyone has the right to freely adhere to their opinions. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to seek, receive and disseminate all kinds of information and ideas, regardless of state borders, either orally, in writing or by print, or in art forms of expression, or in any other way of their choice.
The use of this right imposes special obligations and special responsibility. This right, respectively, may be associated with some restrictions, which, however, must be established by law and be necessary:
a) for the respect and reputation of others;
b) for the protection of state security, public order, health and morality of the population.
Thus, the permissible restrictions on freedom of expression established for the protection of public order should be proportionate and not go beyond the necessary limits. The unlawful use of a combustible mixture, property damage can and should be prosecuted, but the punishment for these violations should not be excessive and disproportionate.
In accordance with Art. 14 of the Covenant, everyone is entitled, when considering any criminal charge against him, to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal.
In violation of these rights, Nikita Emelyanov was sentenced to excessively harsh punishment, which is clearly disproportionate to the deed.
Ivan Komar was also punished by excessively harsh, disproportionately charged actions.
In addition, the court did not adequately verify Komar’s allegations of coercion to testify, ill-treatment and threats of torture; a proper assessment of the operational-search measures carried out in respect of the accused Emelyanov, which violated his right not to incriminate himself, and also to use the help of a lawyer, which, together with other violations of the rights of the accused, indicates an unfair trial.
Given the severity of the consequences of the deed, the subsequent conduct and the identity of the accused, there were grounds for applying non-custodial measures against Yemelyanov and Komar, provided for by the sanctions of the relevant articles of the Criminal Code.
All of the above may indicate a disproportionate punishment of Nikita Emelyanov and Ivan Komar in connection with their views and beliefs.
In accordance with the Guidelines for the Definition of a “Political Prisoner,” a political prisoner can be a person deprived of liberty if, if there are political motives for his persecution, at least one of the following factors takes place:
- deprivation of liberty was applied in violation of the right to a fair trial, other rights and freedoms guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
- the deprivation of liberty was based on falsification of evidence of the alleged offense either in the absence of the event or the offense or its commission by another person;
- the duration or conditions of the deprivation of liberty are clearly disproportionate (inadequate) to the offense in which the person is suspected, charged or convicted.
We consider it necessary to demand for Nikita Emelyanov and Ivan Komar an immediate review of the sentence, subject to the right to a fair trial and the elimination of these violations.
Human Rights Center "Viasna"
RPOO "Belarusian Helsinki Committee"
Establishment “Consulting center on current international practices and their implementation in the law“ Human Constant “
PU "Belarusian Documentation Center"
RPO "Legal Initiative"
Human Rights Initiative Group “Identity and Law”
Legal Transformation Center Lawtrend