Strasbourg, 16.04.2012 – Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Jean-Claude Mignon today welcomed the release of Belarusian opposition leader Andrei Sannikov and his former campaign aide Dzmitry Bandarenka, while urging President Lukashenko “to release and fully rehabilitate all other remaining political prisoners”.
“At its January 2012 Session, our Assembly deplored that a number of individuals, including former presidential candidates, civil society activists and prominent human rights defenders, remain in prison on political grounds”, the President said.
In its Resolution 1857, the Assembly had noted that some of those who were sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in protests against the government had since been pardoned. “However, some prisoners have alleged that they were pressured into appealing for clemency and admitting their guilt in order to secure release. In many cases, the released prisoners claim that they were subjected to torture, given inadequate medical attention and denied proper access to legal representation”, Mr Mignon added.
“A thorough and credible investigation into these allegations of ill-treatment and torture at the time of arrest and in detention is indispensable”, PACE President concluded.