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 the investigator failed to establish the specific circumstances in which physical force and crowd control devices were used on the applicant;

 the investigator failed to assess whether the use of force and crowd control de-vices was appropriate and proportional.

 the investigator failed to assess the case under the crime of torture as defined by Belarus international obligation.

Taken together, this makes it possible to assert that the investigation was ineffec-tive, because the investigator failed to comply with the principles of thoroughness and impartiality.

The next section will present some early conclusions concerning the quality of of-ficial investigation into complaints of torture and other types of cruel and degrading treatment.

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prescribed by the law and by failing to properly notify applicants of the progress made in the investigation.

4. The observed difference in responses to similar situations by the Investigative Committee’s subdivisions in different locations demonstrates a lack of uniform legal positions or consistent law enforcement practices. Nonetheless, the overall trend is to limit, to the maximum extent possible, the rights of the participants in the proceedings, in particular the victim and his/her representative.

5. The Belarusian authorities demonstrate an extreme lack of transparency, such as the absence of any published official position concerning the investigation of complaints alleging torture and other types of cruel and degrading treatment or any information on the progress of such investigations and on the Interdepartmental Commission’s work.

6. For the most part, the Prosecutor’s Office failed to live up to their role as the author-ity responsible for overseeing the performance of investigative bodies at the pre-trial phase. Prosecutors have refused to respond to inappropriate delays of pre-investiga-tive checks or to use their legally stipulated power to open criminal proceedings on their own initiative.

7. To date, it is not possible to assess the completeness and thoroughness of the of-ficial investigation, as it requires access to information about the progress made, any steps taken so far and their results in each individual case.

8. To date, no criminal investigations is undertaken under the specific angle of estab-lishing possible acts of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as opposed to mere ‘abuse of authority’.

It appears evident, that as of December 31, 2020, the State has not properly fulfilled its obligation to conduct an effective investigation into complaints of torture and other types of cruel and degrading treatment. To the contrary, it provides evidence that investigations and complaints are actively protracted, and victims and witnesses dis-couraged or intimidated from pursuing their legal rights, an indication that justice is neither provided nor wanted.

An important disclaimer: any opinions expressed in this section do not intend to deny that some employees of the Belarusian investigative bodies are highly qualified and conscientious professionals who perform their responsibilities in good faith and in accordance with the law. Instead, the above is intended to reveal the overall pattern of ineffective investigation into complaints of torture and other types of cruel and degrad-ing treatment, which is observed by participants in the proceeddegrad-ings on the victim’s side.

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CONCLUSIONS

Between August 9 and 13, 2020, the law enforcement officials in the Republic of Bela-rus committed unprecedented and massive violations of human rights, in particular of the prohibition of torture and other types of cruel and degrading treatment.

The Belarusian authorities have ostensibly failed to observe their international obli-gations to conduct an effective investigation into alleobli-gations of torture and other types of cruel and degrading treatment and to effectively guarantee their citizens to be pro-tected from crime and to access justice.

There is a strong evidence that in their actions, the relevant authorities – such as the Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office – are not guided by the law or by their obligation to deliver justice for victims of crime but react to political trends and public statements voiced by senior officials of the State.

This obvious and blatant failure to uphold justice is likely to contribute to social tension and to public distrust of the authorities in general and certain government in-stitutions in particular.

We believe that given the current situation and trends as of December 31, 2020, the only realistic way to ensure the right to effective investigation for all victims is to set up a competent international body with a mandate to investigate massive human rights violations in the Republic of Belarus.

This body should be mandated to investigate not only the August 2020 events, but also the human rights violations that continued in the following months.

We also believe that the official investigations carried out by the competent authori-ties in Belarus should be closely monitored.

Such monitoring should include not only comprehensive legal assistance to victims and their representation in the official proceedings, but also periodic public assessments of the Belarus authorities’ performance concerning the torture investigations in the context of both domestic law and the country’s international human rights obligations.

We find it extremely important that the results of such assessments should be voiced by authoritative organisations and/or public figures.

In this context, we call for maximum possible support for Belarus lawyers and human rights defenders who are willing and capable to represent the victims in the proceed-ings before law enforcement agencies and courts, to expose irregularities in the official investigations, and to collect, compile and publicise information about the State’s com-pliance with its domestic laws and international obligations.

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