Because we have the expertise and situation required it. In the wake of President Alexander Lukashenko rigged re-election, Belarus’ state-run Investigative Committee reported receiving some 5,000 complaints of torture and ill-treatment. However, in August 2021 the Committee announced it would not initiate any criminal proceedings because the State’s use of force was in accordance with Belarusian law, “in the suppression of offences”. In response to this statement, IRCT and IFEG asserted the importance of conducting effective forensic investigation of torture reports according to the international agreed principles set out in the Istanbul Protocol with a view to ensuring accountability and reparations for victims of these extensive human rights violations.
The activists of ICITB had gathered huge amounts of evidence of alleged torture. IFEG has the world-leading expertise to substantiate the allegations, and thus maintain pressure on international actors to sanction Lukashenko and his regime. A year after our intervention, 21 States, working together with IRCT member in Denmark, Dignity, the UK’s Redress and 14 other Belarusian and international NGOs established the International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB). The IAPB is mandated to gather evidence of crimes under international law committed by Belarusian authorities in the run-up to, during and after the 2020 presidential election, with the aim of contributing to accountability mechanisms, including eventual trials of perpetrators. The IRCT is a member of IAPB’s Advisory Council.