Criminal Persecution of Zmitser Dashkevich Is Aimed at Intimidation of Publicly Active Youth
The Belarusian authorities scorn the Constitution. Zmitser Dashkevich can receive up to six months of arrest for the use of the right not to testify against himself, which is guaranteed by the fundamental law.
On 14 August 2007 the district police department of Shklou brought a criminal case against a youth leader Zmitser Dashkevich, who had been sentenced to 18 months of jail for participation in an unregistered NGO Young Front.
According to the ruling of the investigator of Shklou district police department, police captain S.Lokh, in June 2007, during an interrogation on a criminal case against Ivan Shyla (brought under the same charges, activities on behalf of Young Front) Dashkevich refused to testify ‘without good reasons’.
The investigator qualified Dashkevich’s actions as a crime under article 402 of the Criminal Code of Belarus (refusal or evasion of witness or victim from testimony). The evidently ordered nature of this case is revolting, because the law does not contain such formulations as ‘good reasons’ at all. Besides, the comment to article 402 repeats the Constitutional norm: people have the right to refuse from testifying against themselves and their relatives.
Being imprisoned for his activity in Young Front Zmitser Dashkevich used his right not to testify against himself that is guaranteed by article 27 of the Constitution, and informed about it the investigation in written form.
Human Rights Center Viasna protests against the fabricated criminal prosecution of Zmitser Dashkevich, considers it as pressurization of the prisoner of conscience with the aim to intimidate politically active youth and demands from the Belarusian authorities to immediately stop the case and release the youth leader.