The authorities spent too much time thinking about abolition of Article 193.1
The Ministry of Justice again confirms the intention of the authorities to eliminate from the Criminal Code of Belarus Article 193.1 that envisages punishment for activities on behalf of unregistered organizations.
These days, the international civil association Civil Belarus (registered in Czech) received another letter from the Belarusian authorities, signed by Ihar Tushynski, Deputy Minister of Justice. This letter is an answer to the request of the organization to be informed about the progress in consideration of the possibility to abolish Article 193.1.
Bear in mind that Civil Belarus also addressed the Belarusian authorities in spring 2009 and received an answer from the Ministry of Justice, where the intention to ‘eliminate from Article 193.1 the norm about punishment for organization of or participation in activities of political parties, other civil associations, religious organizations or foundations that didn’t pass the state registration according to the legally established order, and replace criminal punishment for these actions with administrative punishment’.
This time, the Ministry of Justice stated it didn’t have a determined position on Article 193.1. ‘The competent organs continue their work on studying the possibilities for elimination from Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code the norm concerning criminal punishment and replacing it with administrative punishment. A final position on this issue hasn’t been worked out so far,’ reads the latest answer.
’The answer of the ministry witnesses that have to say nothing apart from what they said in summer last year: the possibility of eliminating the article is considered by the competent organs, whose names aren’t mentioned. However, no practical activities are observed in this direction,’ commented Yury Chavusau, lawyer of the Belarusian Assembly of Pro-democratic NGOs.
Aliona Valynets, coordinator of the Assembly’s campaign Stop 193.1!, said: ‘Such one-type runarounds witness the wish of the authorities to keep playing for time till the issue falls in oblivion rather than make any concrete steps. However, there is no way they can do it, as our campaign will continue highlighting the problem of existence of Article 193.1 and lobbying its abolishment both in Belarus and at the international level.’
Bear in mind that 17 persons have been punished under Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code since its enforcement. Human rights defenders haven’t registered any verdicts of acquittal.
On 12 May, the discussion the repressive Article 193.1, organized by the Assembly of Pro-democratic NGOs in cooperation with the international network of civil organizations CIVICUS and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), took place at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva within the guidelines of the procedure of the Universal Periodical Review for Belarus. The event drew the attention of a large number of representatives of national delegations and international organizations. Later, during the consideration of the report of the Belarusian government within the guidelines of UPR, delegations of Israel, Ireland, Netherlands, Czech and Belgium demanded that the official Minsk abolished Article 193.1 that penalizes actions of unregistered organizations.