Less Than 1 Percent

Human Rights Defenders Calculate the Number of Political Prisoners Released by the Regime through Pardon, Amnesty, and Other Circumstances.

Last week, at least 18 political prisoners were released early in Belarus. Additionally, earlier, the Moscow and Lukashenko regimes sent five Ukrainian citizens home as part of an exchange with Ukraine. However, this is just a drop in the ocean compared to the total number of those convicted on political grounds in Belarus. The number goes into thousands, while only a few are released early.

For instance, in 2021, 14 political prisoners were released by pardon. In 2022, another 12 people were released by pardon, three by amnesty, and one more, a Swiss citizen Natalia Hersche, after diplomatic efforts by her country. Last year, the pardon affected two people – Roman Protasevich and Sofia Sapega. Another six political prisoners were released by amnesty, though some were later subjected to persecution again.

Overall, according to human rights defenders' estimates, the number of political prisoners released by the regime through pardon, amnesty, and other circumstances since 2020 is 0.9% of the total number of those convicted on political grounds.

As of May 6, 2024, human rights defenders report at least 254 political prisoners who are at special risk while behind bars. Among them are 16 people with disabilities, 92 in serious health conditions, 63 individuals over the age of 60 (many of whom have significant health problems), and 10 people with mental disorders. In total, there are currently at least 1,500 political prisoners and detainees in Belarusian prisons.

Human rights defenders are pleased for each person who has returned home. But we remain realistic and do not yet see positive changes in the human rights situation in Belarus, given the numbers of those detained and the new sentences for people who may join the list of those at special risk.

Stopping the repressions and freeing all political prisoners is our goal.
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