Baranavichy human rights defender urges Supreme Court to address his case

2013 2013-01-21T14:55:22+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Siarhei Housha and his lawyer Vosip Slavei in court

Siarhei Housha and his lawyer Vosip Slavei in court

Baranavichy human rights defender Siahei Housha filed today a complaint to the Supreme Court with a request to review the rulings by Baranavichy Court and Brest Regional Court.

The complainant states that the decision of the Court of Baranavichy of August 21, 2012 sentenced him under Art. 17.1 of the Code for Administrative Offences to a fine of 1,500,000 rubles. The trial was conducted in Russian with translation for into Belarusian at the written request of the human rights activists. Siahei Housha disagreed with the court’s decision and filed a complaint in Belarusian to Brest Regional Court to cancel the court order. Judge Vasil Petryu offered to pay the legal costs of the complaint in the amount of 200,000 rubles before 12 September. Since the court order was sent in Russian, Siahei Housha returned it to the court and made an entry in the book of complaints, urging the court to issue a resolution in the Belarusian language. On September 12, the human rights defender appealed personally to the President of the Court Mr. Kmit demanding an explanation of the fact, as well as with a statement to be relieved from payment of the state fee due to the difficult financial situation. Previously, in other administrative cases, he was repeatedly relieved, either entirely or in part, from the payment of state fees for filing complaints to higher courts.

“I clearly explained to the President of the Court that it was the last day for payment of state fees, and if he said that I had to pay the duty on that day, then I would be able to borrow 200,000 until the end of the day and pay it,” said Siahei Housha.

However, the President of the Court assured the human rights defender that his statements would be considered. Meanwhile, the Judge failed to explain that Siahei Housha’s difficult financial situation would not be a valid reason for his exemption from payment of the state duty and recovery of the period for its appeal.

In his complaint, the human rights defenders explains to the Supreme Court that the following day,  September 13, 2012, Judge Petryu returned all the materials on the complaint due to non-payment of state fees. The resolution of this was also sent in Russian. On the day, the Court already had his application for exemption from payment of state duties, but the decision did not mention the fact, and his statement requesting a copy of the ruling of September 13 was not considered by the court. However, in order not to create bureaucratic difficulties, the human rights defender borrowed 200,000 rubles and paid the state fee.

“I believe that for formal reasons they have taken all steps to refuse to consider my complaint to the Regional Court, in order to maintain the legal effect of the court order of August 21, 2012,” noted human rights defender Siarhei Housha.

The fear was later confirmed. Brest Regional Court, by its order dated October 4, 2012, rejected on formal grounds the complainant's request for recovery of appealing period with the wording in Russian without translating it into Belarusian.

Thus, Siarhei Housha believes that the court officials violated Art. 3, 5, 14, 15 of the Law "On Languages."

Given that his application had not been reviewed in accordance with Art. 268 of the Tax Code of the Republic of Belarus, he asked the Supreme Court to cancel all court decisions on his administrative case and recognize the expiry of the period for payment of the state fees in the case as valid, since a complaint against the judgment of the court of Baranavichy and the district of Baranavichy was submitted within the required 10-day period.