Human rights organisations call for immediate release of Belarus activist News
Human rights organisations call for immediate release of Belarus activist

In a statement issued Monday, seven Belarusian and international human rights organisations called for Belarusian authorities to drop all charges and immediately release human rights activist Nasta Lojka. Lojka is facing up to 12 years in prison for her activism, and has been subjected to “inhuman and degrading treatment” throughout her time in detention centres, according to the statement.

In late December 2022, the activist was charged under two articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus: “organizing group actions grossly violating public order” and “incitement of racial, national, religious or other social enmity or discord”. The statement condemned these charges as “politically motivated incitement”, calling for them to be dropped, and for Lojka to be released.

Lojka has been held behind bars since October 2022. Before her later criminal charges, she was serving six, fifteen day sentences for “bogus ‘hooliganism’ charges” in Okrestina Detention Center before being moved to Volodarskogo Pre-trial Detention Center. Throughout her time in the Orkestina centre, she was denied medication and warm clothes and was allegedly subject to torture and inhuman treatment. The statement recounted one instance where she was forced to stay in a courtyard without outerwear for eight hours in conditions below ten degrees celsius. Lojka was also denied access to legal assistance during her detention, as both of her lawyers were disbarred in November 2022.

The human rights organisations that released this joint statement included Human Rights Watch, REDRESS, International Federation for Human Rights, and Human Constanta, a group Lojka had previously worked with before they were shut down by Belarusian authorities. Defamation campaigns against Lojka and Human Constanta have intensified since her detention. The statement highlighted that these campaigns illustrate the “biased stance of authorities”, as they control state media.

Despite requests from the UN Human Rights Committee in December 2022, Belarusian authorities continue their treatment of Nasta Lojka, who remains detention as she waits her criminal trial.