Emanuelis Zingeris: All Belarusians are Lukashenka’s prisoners
22:49, — Politics
Autocrats beyond the EU’s borders should consider what consequences the persecution of their opponents may have, chairman of the Lithuanian foreign affairs committee, Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Emanuelis Zingeris told charter97.org.
He is convinced that the PACE resolution from the 3rd October, that gives a precise definition of the term “political prisoner”, is a historic event.
“The document reflects the strong influence on autocratic and dictator regimes that rule beyond the eastern borders of the EU. Its purpose cannot be overestimated. The document’s value is as high as the value of the Declaration of Human Rights,” Emanuelis Zingeris said.
The Lithuanian parliament member remarked that a range of the PACE country-members didn’t support the resolution.
“For many regimes where opponents are persecuted and thrown behind the bars, this resolution can become the stone that they will stumble upon, and it scared them. Some changes to the document are results of voting. It’s a mistake to think that the PACE resolution cannot influence dictators. I am sure that with a rigid definition of the political prisoner it will be harder for them to get rid of their opponents.”
Emanuelis Zingeris emphasized the legal dimension of the resolution. According to him, now it will be more difficult for dictators to disguise political persecution as ordinary criminal cases.
”According to this document, everyone who the Belarusian opposition refers to as a political prisoner, is a political prisoner. It’s common knowledge that, according to Lukashenka, there are no political prisoners in the country. But Europe has shown that the dictator cannot trick us. Here is our message: “Let’s speak up, let’s call things their real names,” Zingeris emphasized.
Moreover, Emanuelis Zingeris pointed out that the legal notion of a “political prisoner” should be precise. He remarked that all the Belarusians are Lukashenka’s prisoners because they are deprived of their political rights. “But those who are in prison for trying to use these rights are political prisoners”, he stressed.
We remind that on 3rd October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe gave a definition to the notion “political prisoner”.
According to the resolution, ”a political prisoner is a person deprived of their personal freedom in violation of one of the basic rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights – freedom of thought, consciousness and religion, freedom of expression of opinions and information, and freedom of gatherings and associations”. Those who lost their personal freedom on clearly political reasons, and not following a breach of law, are also considered political prisoners. Another criterion is a conviction term too long for the crime that the person has been found guilty of or is a suspect.
Moreover, a person discriminated through the conviction is also considered a political prisoner.