The conference European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Belarusian Experience: Problems and Prospects produced recommendations for Belarusian human rights activists.
On 18-19 February 2005 Minsk hosted the conference for human rights groups and independent media European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Belarusian Experience: Problems and Prospects. Foreigners, representatives of human rights organizations from Norway, England, Russia and Poland attended the conference. During the conference the participants discussed the following: A Structure and Functioning of the European Convention Agencies (reported by V.Gefter, director for Human Rights Institute in Russia), Belarusian Laws on Mass Media and Their Compliance with European Standards (reported by M.Pastukhou, PA Belarusian Association of Journalists), Belarusian Laws on the Freedom of Assembly and Their Implementation (reported by the lawyer U.Labkovich). The participants who had worked in the section Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association developed recommendations for Belarusian human rights activists. Especial attention was attached to the broader use of international legislation to protect the rights of Belarusian citizens. The conference participants agreed that such a practice would raise professional standards of human rights protection in the country.
Basing on the results of the Section Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, the Section participants have adopted the following recommendations:
1. applications requesting permission to hold peaceful assemblies (demonstrations, processions, picketing etc.) should reference international legal standards;
2. human rights activists appearing in courts:
- should refer to the practice of the European Court and UN Committee for Human Rights as an officially accepted interpretation of international law principles (in an attempt to influence the inner conviction of judges, proceeding from the assumption that the “court evaluates the evidence presented according to their inner conviction based on ...”);
- should lodge petitions:
a) prepare methodological recommendations based on how the UN Committee for Human Rights reviews complaints;
b) regarding the attachment of extracts from MP GPP and from the Committee decisions;
c) regarding the direct application of provisions laid down in the Belarusian Constitution;
d) regarding the recognition of an enactment(s) as violating the Constitution of Belarus and the international legally binding commitments of the Republic of Belarus;
e) each petition made in compliance with b) and c) should be brought to the attention of the Constitutional Court of Belarus;
f) when prepared, appeals should be based not only on the factual circumstances and internal legislation but also on the international legally binding commitments undertaken by Belarus, and also reference decisions taken by the UN Committee and EC;
3. all court instances of Belarus should be involved;
4. the information reported to the Committee should be written in the language of international law: inadmissible restrictions (which are possibly introduced in a Law but contradict the internationally accepted standards and are not “necessary in democratic society”);
5. the information reported should spell out requests in a clear manner: modifying an enactment, paying compensation, remedying damage (fine, confiscated property etc.)
6. the international NGOs accredited with the Committee should be informed.
7. it should be attempted to compel the courts to act in accordance with the Regulation of the Plenum of the Supreme Court of Belarus dated 25 March 1999 No.1 in what concerns allowing representatives (rather than only lawyers) to take part in court proceedings.
8. Cases that involve the police violating legislation (resorting to unmotivated violence, in particular) should be reported to the procurator’s office.
9. The Law on Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus should be sent to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Belarus so that the latter consider the constitutionality of this law in what concerns the right to peaceful assembly.
10. Denied requests for a mass event should be legally appealed in all court instances, as well as in the UN Commitee for Human Rights.
11. Considering that the decision allowing the holding of a mass event should be taken at a sitting of a collegial body of a local executive committee, organizers of mass events should request executive committees to allow their presence at such sittings.
12. The decisions taken by the UN Committee for Human Rights in the cases involving the citizens of the Republic of Belarus should be widely publicized.
13. Human rights organizations should be informed of how the national and international legal standards are implemented.