Soviet of the Republic: Article 193-1 “protects universally accepted human rights and fundamental freedoms”
The Soviet of the Republic sees no need
to initiate the abolishment of Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, which penalizes activities on
behalf of organizations that are not registered with the state.
The coordinator of the campaign “Right to Faith” Aliaksei
Shein and a leader of the Assembly of pro-democratic NGOs of Belarus Siarhei
Lisichonak were informed about by the Soviet's response to their application.
“Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, together with other norms of the Law, is a legal means of struggle against crimes which violate constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens and law and order in the society. According to our opinion, it protects the universally accepted human rights and fundamental freedoms and doesn't violate international standards in the sphere of human rights,” reads the letter, signed by the deputy head of the Regular Commission on Legislation and State-Building L.Maroz. That's why the Soviet of the Republic sees no need to initiate the abolishment of this article.
The deputy head of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich totally disagrees with members of the Soviet of the Republic: “The construction of Article 191-3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus contradicts to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other undertakings of the Republic of Belarus within the framework of the OSCE. The article provides criminal responsibility for any activities on behalf of unregistered organizations. Meanwhile, both the Constitution and the Covenant contain draw the list of the admissible restrictions of the right to association (for securing public or state safety, public order and health, etc.). The restrictions prescribed by Article 193-1 would be admissible if it prohibited organizations aiming at war propaganda, violence, extremist activities, etc. However, as far as it penalizes activities of all kinds of organizations, such restrictions violate the freedom of association, guaranteed by the Constitution and the Covenant.”
Mr. Stefanovich also reminds about the last year's conclusion of the Venice Commission concerning Article 193-1, where it is stated that the article violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is a possible instrument for sanctioning civil activities which gives the authorities wide powers to interfere with the fundamental right to freedom of association, freedom of opinion and expression.
Moreover, as emphasized by Valiantsin Stefanovich, different representatives of the Belarusian authorities have many times stated their readiness to abolish Article 193-1. However, now the Soviet of the Republic takes a different position.