UN Human Rights Committee rules against government in Zhlobin oppositionist’s case
On March 28, the UN Human Rights Committee said that the Belarusian authorities violated the right of a member of the Zhlobin office of the Belarusian Left Party “Fair World” Uladzimir Kirsanau to freedom of peaceful assembly by prohibiting him in 2008 to hold a picket in Zhlobin in order to attract public attention to problems faced by the country’s political parties and public associations.
The Committee’s Communication is available in English. Unfortunately, the activist did not live to see it, as died a few years ago. His interests are represented by the head of the Center for Strategic Litigation Leanid Sudalenka.
Uladzimir Kirsanau’s complaint was submitted to the Committee after he was unable to protect his rights within the country. The Zhlobin District Executive Committee did not allow him, together with a number of other activists, to stage a series of events in connection with the decision of the Ministry of Justice to suspend for six months the activities of the Communist Party of Belarus (now the Belarusian Left Party “Fair World”). Local officials then demanded that the Communists paid for the serviced provided by the police, ambulance and community services.
The UN Human Rights Committee stresses that if the government imposes a restriction on the freedom of peaceful assembly, then it should support the exercise of the right instead of seeking unnecessary or inappropriate constraints. And since the government of Belarus decided that only by prohibiting a peaceful assembly it could ensure public order and safety, as well as the protection of morals, health or the rights and freedoms of other persons, it therefore violated the applicant’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly under Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Under the Committee’s decision, the government is “under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy, including adequate compensation”. The State party is also expected “to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future”.
The Belarusian government should publish the decision in the official media including in the Belarusian language and execute it within 180 days.