Observatory deplores closure of Viasna trial in Homieĺ
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the decision of the court to hold the trial of Viasna activists Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa and Maria Tarasenka in a closed session as this modality does not ensure that their right to a fair trial will be respected throughout all the proceedings.
"Closed hearings can represent a breach of the right to a fair trial, enshrined inter alia in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in that they do not allow the public to verify the proper administration of justice and that the rights of the accused are duly respected and may, ultimately lead to arbitrary sentences," the Observatory said in an urgent appeal.
The Observatory further condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention of Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa and other human rights defenders members and volunteers of Viasna, including Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovic, Uladzimir Labkovich, Marfa Rabkova and Andrey Chapyuk, as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory urges the authorities to immediately release Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa and all Viasna members along with all human rights defenders, journalists and activists arbitrarily detained in Belarus and to guarantee their physical integrity, psychological well-being and right to a fair trial.The Observatory further calls on the authorities in Belarus to put an end to all acts of harassment – including at the judicial level – against Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa, Maria Tarasenka and all other human rights defenders in the country.
Leanid Sudalenka, Tatsiana Lasitsa and Maria Tarasenka were brought before the Centraĺny District Court of Homieĺ on September 3, facing charges of “organisation and preparation of actions grossly violating public order and financing such activities” (Parts 1 and 2 of Article 342 of the Criminal Code). Shortly after the first hearing in their trial opened, judge Siarhei Salouski ruled to hold the hearings in closed sessions during the entire trial. The date of the next hearing of the three human rights defenders is yet not known due to the decision restricting access to information about the trial.