News for November 2009

Brest activists submit complaints to UN Human Rights Committee

23.11.2009 Brest activists submit complaints to UN Human Rights Committee

Three Brest activists Iryna Laurouskaya, Raman Kisliak and Dzianis Turchyniak have submitted their individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee. The activists claim that their rights to free expression and peaceful assembly have been violated. They also say they have faced discrimination due to their beliefs and abuses of judicial procedures, naming it an outrage against their right to a fair trial.

Autukhovich charged with terrorist attack preparation

23.11.2009 Autukhovich charged with terrorist attack preparation

This charge had been arranged for the political prisoner for 10 months. For almost three months out of 20 he was on hunger strike.

Autukhovich’s lawyer Paval Sapelka has informed that Vaukavysk businessman has been charged with preparation of a terrorist attack. The lawyer denied any comments however, referring to secrecy of investigation.

According to information of Aleh Vouchak, a human rights activist, the documents about the charges have been forwarded to Autukhovich, who is kept in Minsk remand prison number 1, on November 20.

20.11.2009 Death convict Andrei Zhuk pleas for mercy

Andrei Zhuk, sentenced to death for alleged murder of two persons, has lodged a plea for mercy with President Lukashenka. This is his last and only chance. Belarusian human rights activists believe that Andrei Zhuk should be pardoned. ‘We, as human rights defenders, call upon the Belarusian authorities to display humanism. Andrei Zhuk’s family have also addressed the President with a plea for mercy. Albeit lacking any legal effect, we do hope their appeal will be taken into consideration by the authorities, too,’ said Viasna’s lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich.

Famous film director Zanussi condemns death penalty

20.11.2009 Famous film director Zanussi condemns death penalty

During his visit to the Listapad international film festival in Minsk, the world famous Polish film director Krzysztof Zanussi has commented on his view of the death penalty. ‘You know, in my country it was banned a long time ago. Pope John Paul II used to speak strongly, saying there was no justification for the death penalty in the modern world, though there perhaps used to be one before. Surely, from a human point of view, I am definitely opposed to it; it seems to me to be something absolutely unreal.

Mahiliouski chas newspaper denied registration again

20.11.2009 Mahiliouski chas newspaper denied registration again

The Ministry of Information has turned down the application for state registration by the Mahiliou-based Mahiliouski chas independent newspaper, claiming that the applicants failed to provide all the necessary documents.

BHC joins ENEMO

20.11.2009 BHC joins ENEMO

The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has become member of the ENEMO European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations. ENEMO is an association of civil NGOs from 16 Balkan, USSR and SEE countries. These NGOs are the leading organizations in their countries within Election monitoring area. All together, they have monitored over 110 national and international elections and trained over 100,000 observers. BHC is the second Belarusian NGO, after the Human Rights Center Viasna, to join the network.

Ministry of Information warned “Nasha Niva” for article about swine flu

20.11.2009 Ministry of Information warned “Nasha Niva” for article about swine flu

The Belarusian independent newspaper got an official explanation for the warning issued by the Ministry of Information on November 18.

As the press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists reports, a ground for the warning was the article titled “Hushing up Flu Causes Panic Epidemic”, published in issue #41 of November 4.

The notice of the Ministry of Information signed by minister Uladzimir Rusakevich says that in accordance with article 34 of the Law on Mass Media of Belarus, a journalist must verify the data in order to spread only reliable information.

Russia’s Constitutional Court bans death penalty

19.11.2009 Russia’s Constitutional Court bans death penalty

The Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation has ruled to declare that the death penalty cannot be used even after the termination of the moratorium, the Interfax news agency reports. The moratorium on the death penalty expires on 1 January 2010, together with the introduction of the jury trial in Russia’s last region – Chechen Republic. After that there would be no formal obstacles for using the death penalty in Russia. However, the Constitutional Court stresses that the introduction of the jury trial in Russia does not allow for the use of the death penalty.

Founders of BCD party threatened by dismissals and deprivation of dwelling

19.11.2009 Founders of BCD party threatened by dismissals and deprivation of dwelling

Organizers of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party have stated about mass pressure on activists of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party with a demand to withdraw their signatures under the founding document for party creation.

The BelaPAN has been informed about that by one of the co-chairmen of the party Vital Rymasheuski.

  Alyaksandr Yarashuk: “Violations of trade unions rights in Belarus have mass, systematic, malicious character”

19.11.2009 Alyaksandr Yarashuk: “Violations of trade unions rights in Belarus have mass, systematic, malicious character”

Independent trade unions are convinced tat the EU won’t return trade preferences to Belarus without consent of the International Labour Organisation.

During the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Brussels, the chairman of the Belarusian Trade Unions Federation Leanid Kozik offered to lift by the EU economic limitations for Eastern Partnership countries. To a much degree he meant return of trade preferences for Belarus.

Salihorsk-plus independent newspaper not registered yet

19.11.2009 Salihorsk-plus independent newspaper not registered yet

According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, the Salihorsk-based ‘Salihorsk-plus’ independent newspaper has received a reply to its application for state registration from the Ministry of Information, claiming that the edition’s declared specialization does not meet Article 12 of the Law on the Press, since it ‘violates the state standards.’ Thus, the newspaper has been denied registration for the second time. Uladzimir Shyla, founder of the newspaper, thinks that the Ministry of Information has been using imaginary grounds for rejecting the applications. The BAJ lawyers support the journalists, saying that the Ministry abuses its authority.

19.11.2009 Brest resident to appeal picket ban

Pavel Kazlou, a 73-year-old resident of Brest, has lodged a complaint with Brest Regional Court against the decision to ban a picket by Brest Leninski Court, the BelaPAN news agency reports. The activist’s aim was to attract public attention to the issue of ‘indifference of local officials while considering people’s applications’, as well as violations of the Law on Public Appeals. In 2008 Mr. Kazlou was deprived of a working license.

Young Front activists says his arrest was illegal

19.11.2009 Young Front activists says his arrest was illegal

Yuras Kazak, member of Young Front’s Navahradak office, charged with ‘disorderly conduct’ under Article 339-1 of the Civil Code, has issued a statement, calling the case an outrage against the law. ‘Firstly, how can one disturb public order and express disrespect of society at 3 a.m.? Secondly, there are Lenin idols all over the country, and they abuse Christianity. It is not ‘an exceptional cynicism’, which is what I am charged with, but protection of Christian values and principles, which should become the basis of our country, its policy and power,’ says the activist.

Authorities ignore complaint by family of missing person

18.11.2009 Authorities ignore complaint by family of missing person

16 November was the deadline for the Belarusian authorities to provide their comments on the complaint submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee by the family of the disappeared Anatol Krasouski. The complaint submitted by Iryna and Valerya Krasouskis was registered by the Committee on 16 November 2008, its copy being sent to the respondent, www.ciwr.org reports. The Belarusian authorities were initially to respond to the complaint by 16 May 2009. However, they demanded translating the document in Russian, instead, and thus received 6 more months for providing their comments. As yet, there is no reply to the complaint.

Ministry of Information issues warnings to 4 newspapers

18.11.2009 Ministry of Information issues warnings to 4 newspapers

The Belarusian Ministry of Information has issued official warnings to four newspapers – Nasha niva, Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belorussi, Narodnaya volia and Va-Bank – four alleged violation of Articles 4, 34, 38 and 49 of the Law on Mass Media. The officials claim the newspapers published false information. However, the Ministry failed to provide explanations to their editors-in-chief, except for Narodnaya volia, whose journalist was charged with agitating people to take part in an unauthorized street action on the day of the forthcoming presidential election in 2011.

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