Ministry of Justice Refused to Register Association of Public Associations “Assembly”
On 17 November 2003 the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus decided not to register the Association of Public Associations “Assembly”.
The documents for registration of the Assembly, the largest organization with the umbrella structure, were filed to the Ministry of Justice in April 2002. Despite the legal obligation to give an answer within a month, justice bodies delayed their decision.
For the 1,5 years during which the ministry considered the documents, a number of the organizations that were its founders were liquidated. Among them there were such human rights associations as “Legal Assistance to Population”, “Human Rights Center “Viasna”, Homel organizations “Hart” and “Public Initiatives”. Other organizations that were among the Assembly’s founders, are being pressurized as well.
“None of us were surprised by this by this decision of the Justice Ministry. In the time when courts close the most authoritative and active organizations on suits of the ministry, it would be illogical for it to allow legalization of the largest association of NGOs. The authorities understand that if the Assembly, which, it’s not a secret, has acted since 1997, receives legal status, it will mean open consolidation of the third sector and acquiring new possibilities for cooperative actions”, -- commented Head of the Working Group of the Assembly of NGOs Ales Bialiatski. “That’s why we consider the refusal to register the Assembly of NGOs as a 100% political decision. From the juridical point of view, the filed documents were prepared perfectly. That’s why the Ministry of Justice referred not to juridical lacks, but to the decision of the commission on registration (re-registration) of public associations as the reason for the refusal. We know that this commission is a special political body aimed at counterwork against registration of the public associations that are dangerous for the present regime.
Despite of this it is necessary to say that the activity of the Assembly won’t stop because of this refusal to give it legal status. We have done, do and will do everything possible for joining of Belarusian NGOs for the well-being of the whole Belarusian people.”