Baranavichy activists suggest amending mass events restrictions
A number of human rights defenders and civil society activists of Baranavichy (Siarhei Housha, Viktar Syrytsa, Viachaslau Bolbat, Viktar Meziak, Mikalai Charnavus, Ryhor Hryk and Anzhalika Kambalava) sent a petition to the newly appointed Chairman of the city executive committee Yury Hramakouski to propose certain steps aimed at the democratization of local restrictions on holding mass events.
The statement says that for various reasons for more than 6 years Baranavichy city executive committee has not allowed a single member of the public to hold public events in violation of Art. 2 and 35 of the Constitution of Belarus. In confirmation of this statement, the applicants attached copies of their applications for rallies and refusals from the city executive committee and the police department.
“We also attached a decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, which condemned the decision of the executive committee of Baranavichy to ban an assembly of citizens of the city on September 10, 2006,” says local human rights defender Siarhei Housha.
The applicants point out that according to the decision of the city executive authorities No. 1497 of 16 June, 2009 "On the order of holding mass events in the city of Baranavichy", the organizers are required to sign agreement for a clean-up, health and public order maintenance. However, it appears almost impossible to implement the decision by signing an agreement with the police department of Baranavichy. The department for protection of public order says that it will sign the contract only when the city executive committee gives permission to hold the event, and permission to conduct is not given, arguing that there is no contract with the police.
The petitioners demand introducing the following changes to the executive committee’s decision:
- Expand the number of permanent locations for events up to 3-4;
- In its decisions prohibiting pickets, meetings or rallies, etc. indicate what provision of the law (or decision of the administration) on mass events, part of a paragraph and paragraph, was violated by the applicants to avoid all contentious issues;
- Invite the applicants themselves to the executive committee’s meetings to consider their applications for mass events in order to clarify controversial issues.
- Allow staging single-person pickets by the notification principle, with no permit required from Baranavichy executive committee if the applicant assumes responsibility for the clean-up, maintenance of public order and health care.
- Delete a subparagraph, which requires organizers of public events to sign an agreement with the police for maintaining public order.
“We suggest dropping the requirement to sign a contract with the police because paragraph 5 of the Council of Ministers’ resolution of 5 March, 2012 obliges the local executive and administrative body within one day from the date of the registration of application for holding a mass event to send a copy to the territorial authority of the Interior to deal with issues related to the protection of public order,” says Siarhei Housha.
The human rights defender is convinced that the activists’ proposals will reduce bureaucratic red tape and will democratize the executive committee’s decision on mass events.