In the wake of the presidential elections on 9 August 2020, thousands of Belarusians have taken to the streets protesting the election outcome and decades of repression. Several hundreds have been subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the police and security forces. This has included punches, kicks, truncheon blows, rape and other forms of sexual abuse.
DIGNITY, in collaboration with our partner organization in Belarus, Human Rights Center “Viasna”, has developed a practical guide for lay people to self-document the torture and ill-treatment inflicted on them.
The guide aims at helping victims collect information and secure evidence, hereby serving any future investigation, facilitating accountability and preserving the historical record.
Viasna offers legal assistance to victims of such human rights violations in Belarus. However, within the current context, the need for legal assistance by far supersedes the capacity available.
The guide explains how lay people can document physical and psychological ill-treatment while they wait for access to legal and medical support. Prompt documentation is important because the physical traces of injuries, such as bruises and wounds, disappear within days or weeks.
The guide also emphasizes the risk of documenting cases in an oppressive environment as well as safety issues to consider.
Furthermore, it explains the most common physical and psychological consequences of ill-treatment and offer contact information for legal assistance as well as referral for psychological assistance.
With this guide we hope that the Belarusians receive adequate information about documentation practices, risks of reprisals, safety issues and contact information to legal assistance – if they wish to have their cases documented.