About ten parties and public associations got closed in 2005
What is the situation in Belarus with the registration of the parties and public associations? Over the past few years the number of the public associations has been going down. This year the same is happening to the political parties. Specialists believe this is connected with the political events of the year to come. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice speaks of ordinary checks performed to ensure observance of laws.
According to the information disclosed at the recent session of the UN Human Rights Commission, in 2003 out of around 2 thousand public associations in Belarus, 50 were liquidated. This year the pace has continued. The Ministry of Justice has liquidated another 47 organizations. This year, the authorities have shut down around ten organizations, including the Union of Belarusian Scouts, the Women’s Movement Adradzhennie Aychyny, and the Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Research.
However, the Ministry of Justice argues that the closure of the public associations is not a political campaign but a result of measures taken to control observation of laws. As evidence they present registration of new public associations. Are the losses in the public sector really compensated for by the creation of new organizations?
The Human Rights activist Alies Bialiatski shared his observations:
(Bialiatski: ) “Unfortunately, this process, however, does not yield equal figures. Associations do get registered, but… For example, the Assembly of Non-Governmental Organizations analyzed the registration attempts made by independent organizations and found out that out of ten organizations that have submitted registration documents, only one gets eventually registered. And those getting the registered status pursue activities in the field of area studies, or sport or are professional associations.
By the way, the Assembly of Non-Governmental Organizations could not get registered with the Ministry of Justice, and last year lost a case against the Ministry of Justice in the Supreme Court.
What has been happening to the non-governmental organizations for the past few years affected last year the political parties, argues the politician Paval Sieviaryniets. He recalls the latest regulation by the Justice Ministry, which banned registering party branches on residential premises. According to the politician, the majority of the opposition parties will not be able to find new legal addresses for their branches, and as a result, will be virtually denied opportunity to nominate their candidates at the local and parliamentary elections, or get observers registered to monitor elections, including presidential elections due in 2006. Paval Sieviaryniets is now participating in the creation of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party. He says the following about the possibility to get it registered:
(Sieviaryniets: ) “We have made three attempts to get the Young Front registered”, none of which succeeded. By the way, after the referendum and the response from the international community, and after the velvet revolutions, all possible opportunities enabling the democratic forces to legally work with the population have been virtually blocked. That’s why they have been closing the National Institute for Socio-Economic and Political Research, human rights groups and newspapers. This is a purging operation. This is the current state of politics here”.