Belarusian Ministry of Justice Explains to FIDH Refusal to Register Viasna
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an international organization uniting human rights organization around the world, including the Human Rights Center “Viasna” that was closed down in 2003. Recently FIDH received a reply from the Ministry of Justice of Belarus on the inquiry about the Ministry’s refusal to register Viasna.
Deputy Minister I. Tushynski gives detailed description of the rights of citizens to freedom of association and their obligations to obey the constitution and the laws of the country. Mr. Tushynski names two reasons that became the ground for denial of registration to Viasna. Quoting: “The name of the organization, in essence, is equal to the name of the organization liquidated earlier by the court decision. That is unacceptable, according to the law of the Republic of Belarus “About Public Associations”. In violation of the requirements of the law the organization failed to provide a document of payment of the state duty for registration of the organization”.
In fact, the reasons Mr. Tushynski refers to, are irrelevant and farfetched. They are evidently political and aim at prohibiting activities of pro-democratic NGOs, including the ones defending human rights. Article 5 of the Belarusian Constitution the deputy minister refers to, has a clear list of grounds for denial of registration: “…prohibited is creation and activity of political parties, and non-governmental organizations, which have a goal to violently change the state system, or carry out propaganda of war, or social, national, religious, or racial enmity.” The same is stated in Article 23 of the Constitution: “Restriction of rights and freedoms of an individual (including the right to freedom of association) is allowed only in cases provided by the law, in the interests of national security, public order, defense of morals, health of the population, and the rights and freedoms of other individuals”.
Deputy minister of justice should have known that 23 of the International Pact of Civic and Political Rights , ratified by the Republic of Belarus, also has a clear list of restrictions for the right to freedom of association, which are “provided by the law and are needed in a democratic society in the interests of state or public security, public order, defense of health or morals of the population or defense of the rights and freedoms of other individuals”.
In fact, by denial of registration to Viasna the Ministry of Justice ignored both the international legal norms and the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.
In is interesting enough, in his response to FIDH Mr. Tushynski says nothing about other reasons for denial which the Ministry of Justice gave to the founders of Viasna. A good example of law ignorance of the ministry’s officials is their statement that one of the reasons for denial of registration was the fact that some of the cofounders had committed administrative violations. Such disfranchisement in the right to freedom of association contradicts both the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, and the Law “About Public Associations”.
Yesterday we found out the date of the hearing of the founders’ complaint about denial of registration in the Supreme Court. Human rights defenders invite representatives of NGOs, political parties and movements, and all people who are not indifferent, to visit the hearing at 11 a.m., on October 23rd, and support the right of Belarusian citizens to freedom of association.