Amnesty International Voices Harsh Criticism at Belarus
The Human Rights Organization Amnesty International published an annual report on the human rights in the world. The section that covers Belarus notes that "no progress has been made in the investigation into the disappearance of four people, capital punishment continues to be exercises, freedom of expression and right of assembly continue to be suppressed, opposition activists are arbitrarily detained and harshly treated by the police, non-governmental organizations continue to be pressurized and liquidated."
The Belarusian section of the Amnesty International report first says that in December the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) refused to Belarus the status of the special guest to the Council of Europe. In April 2004 the UN Human Rights Commission established the position of a special UN reporter on Belarus. In January this international representative was refused an entry visa by the Belarusian authorities.
Amnesty International also reminds that according to OSCE observers, the last year's parliamentary elections and referendum in Belarus fell short of the organization's standards.
Amnesty International also brings attention to the last year's address from the Constitutional Court of Belarus to the head of state and the parliament, which proposed abolition or, at least, moratorium, on the capital punishment. However, the report notes that in 2004 almost five death sentences were passed in Belarus.
The document reminds that in 2004 the procurator's office ceased investigation into the disappearance of the TV journalist Dzmitry Zavadzki. (This year the case was resumed.)
Amnesty International notes the April decision taken by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that called for an independent investigation into the disappearances of the Belarusian public activists, and into alleged involvement of the Belarusian authorities representatives.
A special section of the Amnesty International report is devoted to the Belarusian Helsinki Committee that was accused of failure to pay taxes from the European Union grant. All the stages of the litigation procedure the BHC had to go through are mentioned. It notes that only at the end of 2004 the BHC was completely cleared of all charges.
(As it became obvious later, not all charges were dropped – this year the taxation committee again has brought action against BHC on the same charges.)
In the Freedom of Expression section the Amnesty International turns attention to three widely publicized cases: the criminal case against the businessmen Valiery Lievanieuski and Aliaxandr Vasilieu, members of Free Belarus organization, the case of the former minister and lawyer Mikhail Marynich, detailing its stages, and also a brutal dispersal of the October manifestations against the falsified results of the elections and referendum. The part mentioned last describes beatings of action participants, the UCP leader Anatol Liabiedzka, says that 40 people were fined or sentenced to administrative arrest for taking part in these actions.
The section in the Amnesty International report entitled "Prisoners of conscience with a large term of imprisonment" relates the story of Prof. Iury Bandazheuski, who was sent by court into a restricted settlement after serving half of the eight year term, reports Radio Liberty.