Human rights defenders: granting parole to Yauhen Yakavenka doesn’t solve his problem
On 23 July the panel of judges on criminal cases of the Homel Region Court headed by Judge Liudmila Hrynko, amnestied Yauhen Yakavenka, a member of the Belarusian Christian Democracy , conscientious objector to the military service.
Members of the Human Rights Center Viasna believe that the existing problems with the alternative civilian service and the discrimination of the Belarusian language will still result in the criminal persecution of draftees. The human rights defenders Anatol Paplauny and Leanid Sudalenka who monitored the criminal proceedings of Mr. Yakavenka think that the court decision doesn’t solve the problem on its merits.
’The questions of office work in the Belarusian language in the military enlistment offices and the alternative civilian service need to be solved urgently, ‘says L.Sudalenka. ‘The panel of judges has issued a compromising verdict today, freeing Yauhen Yakavenka from the punishment by granting him parole. However, when another drafting campaign starts, he will again demand a writ in the Belarusian language and will be brought to criminal responsibility again.’
’The state doesn’t implement its duties in this case, as we have two state languages. Receiving a writ in the Belarusian language and being assigned to an alternative civilian service are the constitutional rights of a draftee,’ emphasizes A.Paplauny.
According to Article 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the state languages of the Republic of Belarus are Belarusian and Russian. Article 20 of the Law On Languages determines that Belarusian and/or Russian are to be used in the army and other armed formations of the Republic of Belarus.
Article 57 of the Constitution states tat the rules of the military service, the reasons and conditions for release from the military service or its replacement with an alternative civilian service are determined by the law. In 2000 the Constitutional Court adopted a ruling aimed at replacement of the military service to an alternative civilian service for those who refused to serve in the army because of religious convictions. The ruling states that the Constitution doesn’t consider the military service as the only and unconditional variant and admits the possibility of freeing persons from the military service or its replacement with an alternative civilian service.
Bear in mind that on 4 June the Tsentralny District Court of Homel had sentenced Yauhen Yakavenka to a year of personal restraint for alleged draft-dodging. The Human Rights Center Viasna immediately informed the international human rights organization Amnesty International about it. AI officially expressed its support to Mr. Yakavenka. The Belarusian human rights defenders will also urgently inform the organization about the results of the consideration of the cassation complaint of the defendant by the Homel Region Court.