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Statement on recognition of Andžej Juchnievič as a political prisoner

Last update: 27 June 2024
Statement on recognition of Andžej Juchnievič as a political prisoner

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

June 25, 2024

We, the human rights community, note with deep concern that the authorities use administrative prosecution to suppress freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one’s choice.

Some detainees’ terms of administrative arrest are repeatedly prolonged, so their detention is comparable to criminal punishment in terms of length.

In accordance with para. 3.1 of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners, approved by the Belarusian human rights defenders at the III Human Rights Forum, a person deprived of liberty is to be regarded as a political prisoner and should be released immediately, if their detention (including administrative arrest) has been imposed solely because of their non-violent exercise of freedoms guaranteed by the international human rights law.

These criteria fully apply to all persons arrested under administrative charges for exercising their civil rights and freedoms. Accordingly, all persons subjected to administrative arrest for exercising their internationally recognized rights and freedoms are considered as political prisoners for the period of their isolation. Individual statements on recognizing some of them as political prisoners are intended to draw special attention to specific cases of the most severe punishment applied to individuals for exercising their rights and freedoms.

Thus, Andžej Juchnievič, a Catholic priest, has been behind bars for 45 days. He was subjected to administrative arrest three times, including under Article 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Belarus for holding an unauthorized picket — posting the Ukrainian flag on his social media account — and arrested again, for a period of 10 days.

The practice of sentencing a person to several administrative arrests in a row has been used by the Belarusian authorities as a politically motivated pressure for quite a long time.

We, representatives of Belarusian human rights organizations, express our protest against the political persecution and arrest of Andžej Juchnievič and call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  • reverse court rulings against the political prisoner and immediately release him;
  • stop repressions against dissidents and participants of peaceful assemblies;
  • release all detainees who serve administrative arrest for exercising their civil rights and freedoms;
  • immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression in the country.

Human Rights Center Viasna;

Legal initiative;

Belarusian Helsinki Committee;

Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

PEN Belarus;