On 18 February an international conference entitled European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Belarusian Experience: Problems and Prospects got off to a start in Minsk.".
The two-day forum is attended by the experts of the Human Rights House Foundation from Norway and Poland, Norwegian PEN-Center, Amnesty International, the Minsk office of OSCE, as well as by lawyers, journalists and human rights activists including Belarusian Association of Journalists, Belarusian PEN-Center, Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Legal Initiative, the Human Rights Center Viasna and others.
On the first conference day the participants discussed the principles of work conducted by international agencies toward securing human rights, as well as Belarusian realia in the European context. In her welcoming address, the BAJ Chair Zhanna Litvina said that she hoped the European standards would become a basis for lawmaking in our country. Ane Bonde, the representative for the Human Rights House, Norway, said she hoped the outcome of the discussion would allow securing more attention to Belarus from the Council of Europe.
Valentin Gefter, the director of the Russian Institute of Human Rights, gave an account of how the agencies of the European Convention function. He also regretted Belarus has not joined these agreements so far. (Russia ratified the Convention back in 1998).
The activity of the European Court was covered in detail by Slavamir Cybulski, expert of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland. Ann-Magrit Austena, the leader of the Norwegian Union of Journalists and a member of the Norwegian PEN-Center, spoke of the documents that regulate the work of journalists in their country, and of the agencies that supervise their activity.
Tatsiana Protska, BHC Chair, expressed some expectations concerning the further collaboration of European agencies with Belarus: in particular, she proposed using “step-based” strategy toward this country, as well as setting up a committee which would continuously monitor the human rights situation in Belarus, and respond to any deterioration with certain sanctions.
In the second half of the day, the participants will discuss the media situation in this country, as well as the freedom of peaceful assembly and association. The topics to be discussed will cover Belarusian media legislation, as well as the freedom of assembly and association; the violations of the journalists’ rights in 2004; the freedom of creativity in present-day Belarus; the international instruments of protecting the freedom of assembly and association, etc.
The Press Service of Belarusian Association of Journalists.