Vitsebsk court to hear appeals of 3 picket bans
Three applications for pickets – three bans. This is how one can briefly describe the history of the recent communication of Vitsebsk resident Viktar Zharkou with the district administrations. Now Viktar Zharkou has filed complaints with the courts of all the three districts of Vitsebsk against officials who deprived him of the opportunity to inform people about the violation of his rights by the police.
Chances that the courts will meet the said complaints are scanty. In the past few years, local judges have reviewed many similar complaints filed by pro-democratic activists, and have never acknowledged that banning this or that event by the authorities is the violation of someone’s rights.
The right to peaceful assembly and the right to disseminate information and free expression of ideas are guaranteed by the Constitution and international obligations assumed by the Republic of Belarus. However, Vitsebsk city executive committee invented a way to spare the citizens of these rights. In 2009, the city authorities adopted decision No. 881, according to which in order to obtain permission to stage a street event carried out without the involvement of the authorities the organizers must first negotiate an agreement on its service with doctors, police and public utilities.
Since its entry into force, not a single person has managed to sign all the necessary contracts. Failure to comply with this decision is the traditional reason for the prohibition of public events in Vitsebsk. It was for the same reason that the picket scheduled by Viktar Zharkou was banned. It will be a miracle if he can convince the judge that the decision of the local authorities, which de facto makes it impossible to take advantage of one’s rights, cannot overturn the Constitution and the generally recognized principles of international law.