Belarus' current Constitution was drafted in 1994 and amended in 1996 and 2004. Article 24 stipulates that every person has the right to life. The State protects the life of an individual from illegal infringements. Article 25 guarantees the right to liberty and signity. Limits or restrictions on liberty are possible in circumstances set by law. An individual who is detained has the right to judicial review of the legality of his detention or arrest. Article 25 also prohibits torture, or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
According to Article 35:
The freedom to hold assemblies, rallies, street marches, demonstrations and pickets that do not disturb law and order or violate the rights of other citizens of the Republic of Belarus, shall be guaranteed by the State. The procedure for conducting the above events shall be determined by the law.
Under Article 59 of the 1994 Constitution, the state is required to take all available precautions to create internal and external order necessary for the full implementation of rights and freedoms for citizens of Belarus, as provided for in the Constitution. Government bodies and officials are obligated, within their areas of competency, to take the necessary steps for the implementation and protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals. These bodies and individuals are responsible for actions that violate the rights and liberties of individuals.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||Not party|
|1950 European Convention on Human Rights*||Not party|
* Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe. Belarus' "special guest" status has been suspended due to its lack of respect for human rights and democratic principles.
Police Use of Force
The Militsiya is the national police service of Belarus, operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In its 2015 Universal Periodic Review under the United Nations Human Rights Council, Belarus' national legislation on use of force by law enforcement agencies was said to be detailed and containing elements of necessity and proportionality. According to the review, there seemed to be an especially good understanding of when lethal force is allowed to be used.
There is no independent oversight body for the police or other law enforcement agencies in Belarus.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures
In its Concluding Observations on Belarus in 2018, the Human Rights Committee called on the authorities to "promptly and effectively investigate all cases of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, arbitrary arrest and detention of peaceful protesters, and [to] bring the perpetrators to justice". The Committee was also concerned at continued allegations that law enforcement officers resort to the use of torture and ill-treatment in order to extract confessions from suspects and that such confessions are used as evidence in court.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Belarus has reported that the police have been used to protect the regime in power and to prevent peaceful assembly and protest. On 25 March 2017, for instance
the police brought up water cannons, prisoner transport vehicles, armoured vehicles and other equipment for dispersing crowds. On Independence Prospect in Minsk, the police ordered the crowd to disperse, but as the entire area was blocked off, there was no way out but into the police vans.Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, UN doc. A/HRC/35/40, 21 April 2017, §56.
The Special Rapporteur has further noted the unwillingness of state prosecutors to investigate cases of ill-treatment and torture by the police. As an example,
an activist who was severely beaten by two policemen during his arrest on 11 August 2016 was told that his complaint could not be investigated further as he had failed to identify the person who broke his jaw.Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, UN doc. A/HRC/35/40, 21 April 2017, §79.
Belarus is a state party to the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights but, because it is not a member of the Council of Europe, those under the jurisdiction of Belarus cannot bring cases alleging violations of their human rights before the European Court of Human Rights.
There are no reports of prosecution of police officers for unlawful use of force in recent years.