Comments on Ministry of Justice suit to "Viasna"
On September 2, 2003 the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus filed a suit about liquidation of the Human Rights Center Viasna to the Belarusian Supreme Court.
The Human Rights Center Viasna has a national status. It is one of the most influential human rights organizations in Belarus. Its activities are well-known not only in Belarus, but also abroad.
In its suit the Justice Ministry accuses the organization of violations which are certainly not enough for liquidation of the NGO.
According to the Law “On Public Associations”, liquidation procedures might be started if an NGO receives two warnings from the Justice Ministry for the same violation during 12 months. Since August 2001 the Viasna has not received any warnings from the Ministry of Justice.
The Ministry of Justice says, the main reasons for liquidation of the NGO are violations which ostensibly happened in 1999 during NGO registration procedures. Quite surprisingly, the “violations” were revealed after 4 years of the Viasna activities, while check-ups, conducted by the Ministry in 2001-2002, had not found any. At the same time, the suit says nothing about the results of the moist recent check-up the Ministry has been doing since March till September 2003.
The Ministry of Justice names yet another reason for liquidation in its suit: representing interests of citizens in courts. It refers to the case which took place in 1999. We have to point out that in 1999 the Viasna Statute contained the possibility to render legal advice aid to individuals requesting such assistance. Besides that the Code of Criminal Procedures, effective until 2001, provided for the institution of a public defender.
The suit also refers to the violation of the Election Code, the Viasna committed in 2001. They mean the Ruling of the Central Election Committee, which one day before the Election Day of the presidential election 2001 cancelled accreditation of 2 thousand observers – members of the Human Rights Center “Viasna”. This might be the real motivation of the Ministry officials, who initiated liquidation of the NGO, which consistently observes elections and monitors all election campaigns.