Belarusian authorities oppose implementation of UN recommendations on abolition of Article 193-1
On 23 September the 15th session of the UN Human Rights Council is expected to approve the final text of the Universal Periodic Review. Meanwhile, the Belarusian government has not taken any steps to improve the country’s human rights record.
Within the UPR procedure, the UN Human Rights Council received two versions (the official version and the review prepared by the Belarusian NGOs) of Belarus’ human rights developments over the past four years. The alternative analysis named Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code (criminal liability for illegal NGO membership) as one of the gravest human rights abuses.
Having analyzed the submitted reviews, the country members of the Council have worked out a set of recommendations for the Belarusian authorities. In reply, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry addressed the UN with an official statement, claiming there are no grave human rights violations in the country. The MFA argued that ‘Belarus will not admit the recommendation on abolition of Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code’, since ‘the Article is aimed at counteracting the activities of extremist groups and organizations in Belarus.’
Yury Chavusau, lawyer of the Assembly of Belarusian Pro-Democratic NGOs, believes that the MFA’s statement reflects the actual policy of the government. ‘MFA officials cannot promise what is not actually done by the authorities, despite the fact the diplomats are supposed to varnish the regime’s international reputation. Today, there are certain promises to review Article 193-1 at the House of Representatives and the Presidential Administration. However, the Foreign Ministry does not give hollow promises. In case the possible abolition of Article 193-1 were voiced at the international level, this would impose serious legal obligations on the Belarusian authorities,’ says the expert.