In Belarus there took place a campaign “the Week against torture”. Human rights activists say that torture was a problem for the country is relevant, but its scale is unknown to society.
The campaign was held by the initiative “human rights Defenders against torture”, the Week called “TORTURE/XIA”. At one of the events of the “Week against torture” human rights and sociologists from the company SATIO presented results of the study “measurement of the level of tolerance of the Belarusians to the state violence”. To assess how the Belarusians are tolerant of state violence, surveyed 902 people aged 18-55 years, living in cities with population over 50 thousand people.
It turned out that the Belarusians are ready to justify the violence of the state, if its use helps to prevent a threat to other people’s lives: terrorism, mass murder. 33% of Belarusians believe that violence on the part of government employees is valid in the case of threat to human life. 31% of respondents were undecided on this question, and another 13% said that violence is permissible in the case of the fight against terrorism. 12% believe that violence can be used against dangerous criminals, 8% were cases of threats to health, and only 6% believed that violence by representatives of government agencies should not be used ever.
At the same time, as noted in an interview with RFI sociologist of the center for SATIO Philip Bykanov, we can talk in General about the low tolerance of the Belarusians to the state violence, however, with adjustment for features of national tolerance. The higher the assessed risk of crime or of the offender, the more often the punishment is not perceived as violence and considered acceptable. If the risk of crime low drastically decreases the approval of violent action, even if the punishment is soft.
Philip Bykanov: “People are willing to call violence only what is beyond measure, that is, if the person broke something and it broke, only if it broke too much is violence. And what about the fact that Belarusians loyal/disloyal (state of violence) — two ways you can look at. In General, the Belarusians are not ready to endure the violence of the state. I do not think that Belarusians are ready with the pitchforks and scythes to go as soon as they see symptoms, but they won’t approve of this violence. Endorse not — we have a fairly low tolerance for violence, quite a large part of the urban population. The index that we calculated shows that, first, 13% of urban residents do not accept violence of almost any kind, that is, they are sure to be dissatisfied (violence), and there are people who are unhappy with some, frankly, pretty extreme violence. There are people who probably won’t care, but they are few, those who are ready for that if violence comes from the state, then everything is okay. Very few of them, 10 percent. People wouldn’t approve. Will people to do something is not the question of this study”.
And here is the result of the survey in relation to the death penalty for the sociologist was unexpected. Death penalty Belarus is the last country in Europe where punished with death, — fully endorsed 31% rather approve 40% of respondents. Rather do not approve of the death penalty, 19% of respondents fully approve — 8%, no opinion on the matter at 3%.
Philip Bykanov: “Here we see a slightly different picture — 70% approve (the death penalty). There is no direct relationship between approval of violence and approval of the death penalty, it’s a bit of a different order questions, because the death penalty is, apparently, in a different plane to humans. That is, they trust the courts, don’t you think that the courts do not work well in cases that do not involve, say, with some political things. I expected the lack of this consensus in society — research told us that 70% approve of the death penalty, I expected somewhere close to 50-60% approval. I was expecting a lot of people will say “I have no opinion on this question, because I’m not interested” and so on, but there is only 3%. I still think that the percentage of approval below. We have what we have.
In Russia on the eve of the International day in support of victims of torture on 26 June was published the survey “Levada-center” conducted on behalf of the Committee against torture. Every 10 minutes the Russians have faced torture. About 60% of respondents said torture is unacceptable and only 30% admitted the use of torture in exceptional cases, for example, for the sake of someone else’s life or to commit serious violent crime. “Despite the similarity of the States, the Belarusian results of the survey surprised me,” — said in comments to RFI, the guest of the Belarusian Week, a representative of the Committee against torture Eugene Chirikov.
Eugene Chirikov: “it is still possible to observe a significant difference. As far as I can tell, all the same level of tolerance to illegal violence by the authorities in Belarus are much higher. The difference is noticeable”.
According to Victoria Fedorova, the Chairman of the Belarusian Association “Legal initiative”, one of the initiators of the Week, there is a difference in the work of human rights defenders, rather in the availability of protection.
Victoria Fedorova: “we Have a similar system-Supervisory control — only a different principle of formation of the commissions and different powers of these commissions. Our Commission may not without the permission of the Department of corrections (MVD) and the institution just suddenly come at any time. Our need to notify, they can refuse, they do not have actual control, they can’t take pictures, they alone are unable to communicate with the prisoners, they can’t accept from them complaints, that is just a decorative feature that does not allow to obtain objective information from places of deprivation of liberty. So we have to work only with relatives who also have very little information, because Dating is limited, phone calls are also limited. Moreover, the ban on telephone calls is often used as a punishment.”
And most importantly — torture, according to human rights protection in Belarus is, but what is the magnitude of the problem, in the Belarusian society no one knows. “We are constantly confronted with cases of torture and even violent death in places of detention, inhumane treatment in detention and detention in police stations, detention center, detention center. But the statistics — no,” said Victoria Fedorova.
Victoria Fedorova: we Have basically no responsibility for torture as such, we have different articles of the Criminal code kind of abuse of authority, a separate article on “Torture” — no. And this is a problem that the state does not maintain such statistics, i.e. there are no numbers. Often the journalists we are interested in: what is the statistics of torture? So we say: no, because we have no article for it. We have since 2011 dealing with this problem, we do as torture, conditions of detention, inhuman and cruel, help people who come to us sent their proposals for change in legislation, law enforcement practices, as well as send alternative reports to the Committee against torture of the United Nations.
RFI: the Government hears?
Victoria Fedorova: Very difficult, very long. For example, the war for the Center for isolation of offenders in Minsk was renovated and conditions are at least more or less become human — it took more than seven years. This is a very long time. This is a great and laborious work, but sometimes we see small changes, our proposals are sometimes included in the plans.
During the Weeks of torture against human rights defenders have also started to collect votes in favor of the signature by Belarus of the optional Protocol to the UN Convention against torture, which provides for the establishment of a National preventive mechanism.