Belarus today is “a country where there is no time for laws”. Confirmation of this is the mass torture with which the security forces respond to peaceful protests. A sense of justice dictates that such egregious crimes must be punished. But how can this be achieved if the judicial system of the Republic of Belarus does not protect the rights of its citizens, but, on the contrary, violates them itself?
In such situations, international mechanisms for the protection of human rights come to the rescue. One of them is universal jurisdiction.
After the Second World War, the most cruel crimes – genocide, mass torture, persecution for views and beliefs – were singled out in a separate category of “crimes against humanity“. Hoping to avoid the horrors of fascism in the future, the governments of the countries agreed to judge for such crimes, regardless of the place where they were committed.
Remember the situation from American films. As soon as the bandit, running away from the police, crosses the state line, the chase immediately stops with the words “we cannot arrest him, this is not our jurisdiction.”
In a real judicial system, everything works the same way. If a criminal robs a bank in one country and hides in another, he cannot be tried without a special agreement between states.
But only if we are not talking about “crimes against humanity”. They can be judged in any country. Therefore, this approach is called universal jurisdiction. That is, it does not depend on the scene of the crime or the nationality of the offender.
So, in 2021, an ex-colonel of the Syrian special services and an accomplice of the regime of Bashar al-Assad was tried in Germany. The court found Anwar G. guilty of 4000 cases of torture, 30 murders and 3 cases of sexual violence and sentenced him to life imprisonment. At the same time, neither Anwar nor the crimes he committed had anything to do with Germany.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR BELARUSIANS?
If you have been detained or tortured for the peaceful expression of a political position, you can sue the criminal authorities of any country that shares the principles of universal jurisdiction.
At the moment (September 2022), an investigation into mass torture in Belarus is already underway in Lithuania – one case has been opened, in which separate cases are added.
It is possible that in the future Poland and other European countries will join the trials of security forces.
WHAT DO WE HAVE TO DO?
One of the tasks of the International Committee to Investigate Torture in Belarus is to help victims benefit from the principles of universal jurisdiction.
If you want to testify and add your story to the general investigation, you need to:
1 Get documented in the Committee
2 State your desire
3 Come to the country where the investigation is underway (now it is Lithuania)
4 With the help of the lawyers of the Committee, write a statement to the prosecutor’s office
5 Pass interrogation and testify
6 Get a decision to start an investigation
7 Be prepared to come for re-interrogation
Investigating cases of this magnitude is a long process. The investigating authorities are trying to collect as much evidence as possible, so real results will have to wait from a year to decades.
Nevertheless, today it is the only legal way to assert your rights!
The good news is that crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. Therefore, you can be sure that justice will definitely prevail!
WE WILL HELP
If you decide to go this route, we will try our best to help you!
We will cover:
▪️ We will provide legal support
This way we can contact you, document your story and tell you about the next steps.