Hrodna Regional Court confirms picket ban
On January 20, Hrodna Regional Court considered an appeal lodged by local human rights defenders Viktar Sazonau, Uladzimir Khilmanovich and Raman Yurhel to challenge a decision of Leninski District Court. The latter recognized legality of the executive committee’s refusal to hold a picket to inform about the situation with the death penalty in Belarus on October 10, 2013. The board of the Regional Court of three judges predictably sided with the executive committee and the court of first instance.
The city executive committee banned the picket because it alleged that the applicants could not afford the costs associated with its conduct. The previous court session revealed that holding a picket in Hrodna cost as much as 23,324,000 rubles (approx. USD 2,440). The officials also demonstrated a stunning red tape approach, saying that the applicants had failed to specify whether they were going to use pyrotechnics or open flame, considering it a violation of the law. In addition, the city executive committee violated the law “On Languages”, issuing an answer in Russian.
On December 4 last year, Leninski District Court Judge Volha Shymanskaya did not want to accept the arguments of the applicants and dismissed their complaint. After that, Viktar Sazonau, Uladzimir Khilmanovich and Raman Yurhel appealed to the Regional Court, who heard the applicants' complaint, and, without asking a single question, upheld the ruling of the district court.
The human rights defenders say they are going to file a complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.