UN Human Rights Committee recognizes violation of Navapolatsk activists’ rights
The UN Human Rights Committee recognized a violation of the rights of civil society activist from the town of Navapolatsk, Anton Yasinovich and Valery Shauchenka.
In 2007, a court in Navapolatsk sentenced Valery Shauchenka to fine of 1,225,000 rubles and Anton Yasinovich to a fine of 875,000 rubles for the alleged violation of the election legislation.
The activists staged a number of pickets in Navapolatsk to protest against the abolition of social benefits and inform people about the impact of a bill to enforce the changes. During the campaign, they urged the town residents to sign a petition to revoke their MPs, “who voted for the anti-national law.” 3,000 signatures were collected, and the petition was sent to the Presidential Administration and the local executive authorities.
As a result, the activists faced administrative charges for allegedly failing to follow the procedures of impeaching members of Parliament and thus violated Article 10.9 of the Administrative Code. Navapolatsk Town Court found them guilty, while Vitsebsk Regional Court and the Supreme Court later dismissed their appeals.
After that, Anton Yasinovich and Valery Shauchenka submitted a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. A communication received from the experts of the Committee says that the Belarusian court convicted the activists, thus violating Par. 2, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. According to the treaty, each person has the right to freedom of expression: this right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.
Belarus ratified the pact, and thus assumed the responsibility for the implementation of its provisions. Now the activists should receive compensation. However, it is unknown whether it will be done, as the Belarusian authorities have consistently ignored the findings and decisions of the UN Human Rights Committee.