Following the 3 June broadcast of a forced ‘confession’ by jailed Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said:
“Raman Pratasevich’s forced ‘confession’ on Belarusian state TV was devastating to watch. He was plainly on the edge of breaking down, in tears and with visible wounds on his wrists, as he was forced to incriminate himself and praise his captors. It was a televised coercion.”
“Yesterday’s degrading and humiliating ‘interview’, showing Raman Pratasevich to be under intolerable psychological pressure, amounts to ill-treatment and those behind this travesty must be held accountable. Raman Pratasevich has been deprived of his liberty and is facing a lengthy prison term solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.
“We note the strong international condemnation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime, including by European Union countries, and call on governments to do their utmost to end the human rights crisis in Belarus. All perpetrators of torture, killings and other crimes under international law in Belarus must be held accountable in accordance with international law, and available transnational justice mechanisms must be enacted.”
The Belarusian journalist and blogger Raman Pratasevich, who co-founded the popular opposition Telegram channel NEXTA, was arrested on 23 May after his Lithuania-bound flight was diverted and forced to land in Minsk. On the evening of 3 June, Belarus’ state-run TV channel ONT aired an ‘interview’ with him during which he confessed to plotting anti-government protests and praised Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka. As he was questioned by Marat Markau, the TV host, Raman Pratasevich cried several times and covered his face with his hands. This made it possible to see visible marks on his wrists.
Raman Pratasevich is charged under Articles 293(1) (“Organization of mass disorders”), 342(1) (“Organization or active participation in group actions that severely violate public order”) and 130(3) (“Incitement of racial, ethnic, religious or other social hatred or enmity”) of the Criminal Code. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment.