Biaroza court sides with executive committee in ban on picket against the death penalty
On November 19, Biaroza District Court considered a complaint filed by human rights defenders Tamara Shchapiotkina and Siarhei Rusetsk, as well as civil society activist Tatsiana Tarasevich, to challenge a ban imposed by the district executive committee on a picket against the death penalty scheduled for October 10.
The applicants asked the court to find the ban unlawful, as it refers to a decision of the executive committee of February 9, 2010 which is impossible to fulfill.
The fact is that according to the decision of the executive committee, the application for a picket must be submitted together with copies of agreements with the police, public utilities and medical services However, according to a decision of the Council of Ministers of 2012, the executive committee must send to the police department a copy of the registered application (which the executive committee failed to do issuing its decision to ban the rally), and only then police maintenance of the event can be discussed with the district executive committee. Biaroza hospital did not sign an agreement, because the procedure is not regulated by the Health Ministry at all, and there is no price list for the service. The public utilities department also refused to enter into a contract, as they suddenly remembered that the stadium (where the picket was expected to be held) was the property of the district executive committee and advised to seek a contract there.
As a result, the executive committee refused to bring its decision in line with the Council of Ministers’ later decrees. During the trial, a lawyer representing the executive committee said that the Council of Ministers gave no order to change the decision and bring it in line with its decrees.
A representative of local Prosecutor’s Office who attended the trial, who is supposed to control the observance of the rule of law, however, justified the executive committee’s requests and in no way responded to the lawyer’s words.
In her the decision, Judge Natallia Minchanka took the side of the executive committee and turned down the activists’ complaint.
The applicants intend to appeal the decision to higher courts, and, if unable to achieve the restoration of violated rights to peaceful assembly and expression in Belarusian courts, are planning to appeal it to the UN Human Rights Committee.