Belarusian human rights defenders informed Amnesty International about sentence to Yauhen Yakavenka
On 4 June, Tatsiana Shvets, Judge of the Tsentralny District Court of Homel, sentenced Yauhen Yakavenka, an activist of the organizing committee of the Party of Belarusian Christian Democracy, to a year of personal restraint for 'evasion from military service'. Mr. Yakavenka was released till the enforcement of the sentence under a written undertaking not to leave. The activist and his counsel, Yauhen Hrabouski, disagree with the verdict and stated they would appeal against it.
The lawyer refused to give any commentaries before familiarizing with the verdict.
Bear in mind that Yauhen Yakavenka refused to serve in the many referring to his pacifist convictions. He also demanded that the writs from the military enlistment office were composed in Belarusian, one of the two state languages of Belarus. The court cleared various circumstances of the case. One day was dedicated solely to Yakavenka's convictions that didn’t let him serve in the army. However, as a result the judge didn’t asses this aspect and based the verdict on the formal corpus delicti – 'systematic evasion from appearing at the military enlistment office after receiving writs, as a result of which he was repeatedly subject to reconduction', though the case doesn't contain any documents witnessing the reconduction.
The judge abstained from commenting on the verdict and left the court hall immediately on announcement of the verdict. Earlier, the prosecutor of the Tsentralny District of Homel, Uladzimir Yemialyanchanka, demanded that the accused was sentenced to 3 months of arrest.
The Human Rights Center Viasna immediately informed the international human rights organization Amnesty International about the verdict to Mr. Yakavenka.
'We, human rights defenders, have always emphasized that the military duty is not an absolute one, and people can be assigned to alternative civilian service because of their beliefs – religious, pacifist, political or any other ones. This right is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, and the absence of the appropriate law in the country is not the fault of conscientious objectors. That's why we informed Amnesty International about it and called it to raise this issue and, if possible, to urgently organize a campaign on the abolition of the verdict Yauhen Yakavenka,' commented the human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Human rights defenders are convinced that Yauhen Yakavenka was drawn to criminal responsibility and subject to repressions in connection with his beliefs.