Statement of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.
Brief description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the refusal by Belarusian authorities to re-register the Human Rights Centre “Viasna”.
According to the information received, on March 3, 2009, members of Viasna were informed by letter of the decision of the Ministry of Justice to deny their request to register their organisation under the name of “Nasha Viasna”, as according to the law, the name of a liquidated organisation cannot be used. 67 members of the organisation had submitted their application for Nasha Viasna on January 26, 2009.
Viasna had been registered with the Ministry of Justice since 1999, but was forced to close down in October 2003 by decision of the Supreme Court. On 24 December 2003, Viasna's appeal lodged against the Supreme Court decision to liquidate the organisation was rejected. Its members were denied the right to pursue legally their human rights activities in Belarus within the framework of their organisation. After they had exhausted all domestic remedies to challenge the Court's decision, in April 2004, Mr. Aliaksandr Bialiatski, President of Viasna and FIDH Vice-President, lodged a complaint before the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
In July 2007, the UN Human Rights Committee concluded that the dissolution of Viasna was a violation of Article 22, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and that the co-authors of the complaint were “entitled to an appropriate remedy, including the re-registration of Viasna”. Consequently, the organisation made an new attempt to register, but its application was soon rejected, in violation of Communication No. 1296/2004 of the UN Human Rights Committee.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about these events and recalls that as a Participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Belarus must conform with paragraph 8 of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions, which states that the OSCE Participating States recognise “the need for particular attention, support and protection for human rights defenders by the OSCE, its Institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States”.
The Observatory urges the authorities of Belarus to:
Put an end to all forms of harassment against Viasna’ activities, repeal the decision to close it down and re-register it, and ensure in all circumstances that its members are able to carry out their work freely without any hindrances;
Put an end to all acts of harassment against human rights defenders in Belarus;
Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, Article 6.b, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others [...] freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms”, as well as with Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;
Comply with the provisions of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the 2nd Conference on the Human Dimension of the Cooperation and Security Conference in Europe (CSCE) (1990), and uphold in all circumstances the principles and provisions enshrined in the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus and which, in particular, guarantee freedoms of association, demonstration, expression and opinion, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, ul .Karla Marksa, 38, 220016 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or + 375 172 22 38 72, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
General Prosecutor, Petr Miklashevich, Internatsionalnaya str. 22, 220050 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52
Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, 15 avenue de la paix, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51. Email: email@example.com
Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, 192 avenue Molière, 100 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2.340.02.87, Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Belarus in your respective country.
Paris-Geneva, March 4, 2009
 See the Observatory Press Release dated August 31, 2007.
 Adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Kiev on July 10, 2007.