Baranavichy: human rights defender applies to Constitutional Court
Human rights defender Siarhei Housha
asks the court to initiate amendment of the Process-Executive Code
referring to his own experience.
Mr. Housha filed his application to the Constitutional Court on 1 March. He asks the court to consider the norm of the Process Executive Code of Administrative Offenses (further referred to as PECAO) concerning the impossibility of exemption from the court fee, as unlawful and incompatible with the Constitution and the international legislation, and propose to the Chamber of Representatives to consider the question of amending the PECAO with the aim to guarantee the due protection of civil rights and liberties at court.
In his letter Mr. Housha informs the Constitutional Court and on 21 August a judge of the Court of Baranavichy, Vasil Petryu, rejected his petition to be exempted from the court fee. The judge explained the refusal by saying that such possibility was not provided for in the PECAO.
As a result, Mr. Housha was unable to file an appeal against a court verdict due to the lack of finances. According to Siarhei Housha, the right to court protection is guaranteed by Article 60 of the Constitution. Art.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) obliges all state parties to provide effective means of court defense to all persons whose rights are violated.
Siarhei Housha believes that, with the view of the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution and ICCPR, the state must provide the means of court defense which would guarantee effective protection of the violated rights and liberties.
According to Article 130 of the Civil Process Code of the Republic of Belarus, the court or the judge have the right to fully or partially exempt a citizen from paying the court fee. According to Article 134, the payment of the fee can be delayed or payment in installments can be allowed for the same reasons.
According to Mr. Housha, the same possibilities are provided by Article 127 of the Economic Process Code. Moreover, even in criminal proceedings convicts can be freed from paying the process expenses which must be paid by the state in this case (Article 163).
The human rights defender considers the absence of a similar provision in the PECAO as a defect and asks the competent authorities to correct it.