Contributor(s)Pavel Sapelko / Human Rights Centre Viasna / Prison Insider


Belarus is considered “the last dictatorship of Europe”. The president is at the head of the state since 1994. It is the only country of the continent that has not signed the European Convention on Human Rights. It is also the only country in Europe where the death penalty is still enforced. Two to nine people are executed every year. Siarhei Vostrykau was exectued on May 9th 2017.

The regime makes use of prisons to repress political opponents, journalists and human rights activists. At least 650 demonstrators were arrested in 2016 during the presidential elections. Seven hundred were held in custody, in March 2017, during a demonstration organised for the “Peace Day”.

The incarceration rate -314 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants- is stable but remains very high. The European average is 134.7 (figures from 2014).

Prison conditions are difficult and sometimes life threating. A prisoner has an average space of 2m2. Prisoners are forced to work and compensations are very low. The Department for the Execution of Punishment does not provide security equipment. Accidents at work are common and sometimes lead to death. Medical care is precarious. Tuberculosis is four times more prevalent in prisons than outside.

Individuals with alcohol or drug dependency may be incarcerated in Labour Treatment Profilactoriums (LTP). The Department of Execution of Sentences also runs these centers. No psychological treatment is proposed. Only 5% of those admitted stop drinking alcohol.

Look at the daily lives of the LTP with Irina Popova’s portfolio.

Country population


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Type of government

Presidential Republic

Human Development Index