Fantasies of the Ministry of Justice about ‘Nasha Viasna’
New Refusal to Register the Human Rights Group "Nasha Viasna":
On 11 March the press-release On denial of the state registration to the Civil human rights association ‘Nasha Viasna’ appeared on the web-site of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus. We, human rights defenders, cannot leave this information without notice.
In particular, the Ministry of Justice explains that ‘on 26 January 2009 the Ministry of Justice received the documents on the state registration of the Civil human rights association ‘Nasha Viasna’ (further referred to as CHRA “Nasha Viasna”). During examination of the presented documents there was found a number of mutual discrepancies in the information that was presented in the documents. The list of the founders of the association contained incomplete information.
Taking into consideration the existence of incomplete information in the presented documents, the Ministry of Justice thoroughly studied the circumstances of the constituent assembly of the CHRA ‘Nasha Viasna’. It was found that the assembly, in which 67 people allegedly took part, was held in the premises with the floor space of 35 square meters. Taking into account the items of furniture, computer appliances and placement of the presidium, there is less than 05, square meters for one person. Thus, the constituent assembly of the CHRA ‘Nasha Viasna’ was not held with participation of the number of persons that was stated in the documents that were presented to the Ministry of Justice…
It was also found that more than a half of the founders of the CHRA ‘Nasha Viasna’ have been drawn to administrative responsibility, many of them for several times. Some of the organization founders were also drawn to criminal responsibility. A criminal case under Article 130 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (fomentation of racial, national or religious enmity) was brought against one of founders of the organization. Besides, from the presented documents it follows that at the constituent assembly there were adopted the aims of the organization activities that were not included in the charter, which contradicts to one of the fundamental principles of the establishment and activities of civil associations – the principle of publicity.
There are also other violations.
On the basis of all abovementioned on 26 February 2009 the Ministry of Justice decided to deny state registration for CHRA ‘Nasha Viasna’.
The initiators of the establishment of the association were informed about this decision in the term established by the law and can appeal against it at court.
Due to the fact that insinuations concerning the reasons of the denial of the state registration for CHRA ‘Nasha Viasna’ appeared in some mass media, the Ministry considers it as necessary to point, that in Belarus the right to association is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, the realization of this right must not be connected with violations of the law or abuse of this right by initiators of the establishment of civil associations.’
The press-release of the Ministry of Justice makes us, founders of the civil human rights association ‘Nasha Viasna’ to state it again: we consider the refusal to register our association a completely unlawful, discriminative and politically motivated step of the authorities, doubtlessly aimed at prohibition of our activities.
The arguments of the Ministry of Justice are grounded on insinuations and conjectures that exceed the frames of juridical argument. The statement of the Ministry of Justice that not all founders of the association took part in the constituent assembly with reference to the floor space of the premises is wiredrawn and unprofessional. We’ like to remind to the Ministry of Justice how complicated is the way for holding constituent assemblies of organizations in Belarus. We propose the specialists of the Ministry of Justice to find it on their own, what difficulties the BHD Party had to face to receive premises for holding its constituent assembly and how many times many organization were refused in accommodation of such assemblies.
The next statement, that the majority of the founders of our association are delinquents is also beyond any criticism, because it is not a reason for refusal to register a civil association. In our turn we would like to state: we are proud that among the founders of Nasha Viasna there are well-known human rights defenders from all parts of Belarus, and the fact that they have been many times persecuted, first of all within the frames of Administrative Code, again emphasizes the importance and effectiveness of their work.
We would like to emphasize, that the case brought against the human rights defender from Vitsebsk Leanid Svetsik under Article 130 of the Criminal Code (fomentation of racial, national or religious enmity), is suspended. The case concerns the treat letters to civil activists from Vitsebsk on behalf of the Russian neo-Nazi organization RNE (Russian National Unity). The human rights activist actively assisted these citizens in preparation of addresses to the appropriate state organs. If the Ministry of Justice lets itself boast of a thorough study of documents, it must know about the state in which the case against Leanid Svetsik is.
Moreover, in its press-release the Ministry of Justice distributes imprecise information about the criminal punishment of one of the founders of the organization, which gives us reasons to file a civil lawsuit on finding this information false and insulting to the honor, dignity and business reputation.
Apart from all abovementioned things, the Ministry of Justice shamelessly lies that it informed the founders of the organization about the registration denial in the legal term. The Ministry of Justice violated the law and informed us about its decision five days after the expiry of the maximal term for consideration of documents, envisaged by the law.
Referring to the Constitution, the Ministry of Justice states that the realization of the right to association is incompatible with abuse of this right from the side of the initiators of the establishment of civil associations. However, Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus enumerates the associations and parties, the activities and the establishment of which are prohibited: ‘The establishment and activities are prohibited for the political parties and other civil associations that are aimed at forced change of the state system or propagate war, social, national, religious and racial enmity.’
‘In the Republic of Belarus the civil right to association is guaranteed by the Constitution’, categorically states the Ministry of Justice. Let the authorities explain to the society, which twelve people have been punished under Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code (activities on behalf of unregistered organization). We remind that this outrageous article contradicts to the provisions not only of our Constitution, but also to that of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.
We have many times tried to draw the attention of the Ministry of Justice to the fact that we consider registration of our organization as a remedy of our right to association that was violated by liquidation of the Human Rights Center Viasna, concerning which there is an appropriate ruling of the UN Human Rights Committee. We also insist that by another refusal to register the association the Belarusian authorities, represented by the Ministry of Justice, violate our rights and the international undertakings of the Republic of Belarus.
We will appeal against the actions of the Ministry of Justice on refusal to register ‘Nasha Viasna’ at court in the near future.