Supreme Court Rejects Complaint of Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies against Justice Ministry
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus found legal the warning of the Ministry of Justice to the Independent Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies (IISEPS). Judge Valiantsina Kulik ruled to leave the warning in force. The judge referred to article 25 of the Law about public associations and stated that all documents and materials related to the statute activity of public associations must be presented to the Ministry of Justice. As far as sociologic polls are a kind of the IISEPS statute activity, all materials of the polls including filled questionnaires had to be saved and presented to the registering state bodies if required. That’s how the court puts the anonymity of sociologic polls in danger. The judge also explained that the ministry had the right to check the information which was commercial secret (for instance, if the institute conducted marketing polls).
The IISEPS director Aleh Manayew said:
-- This decision has created a precedent which increases the state control of the civil society with the assistance of the Ministry of Justice.
On 2 February the institute received one more inquiry from the Ministry of Justice with the request to present a questionnaire of the poll that was conducted in November 2004. The ministry representative Aliaksandr Kharyton stated at the court that the ministry wanted the IISEPS activity to be transparent. However, all the questionnaires were liquidated after they were processed by the computer, in accordance with the anonymity principle.
According to RFE/RL