UN Human Rights Committee takes five new decisions concerning Belarus
At the 111th session, held 7-25 July, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations considered five new cases concerning Belarus and issued decisions confirming the violation by the Government of Belarus of certain rights of Belarusian citizens. A brief review of cases was made for “Homel Spring” by the head of the Center for Strategic Lawsuits Leanid Sudalenka.
1. Case “Maryna Koktysh against Belarus” (№1985/2010) refers to the obstacles, created to the journalist of the independent newspaper "Narodnaya Volya" Maryna Koktysh in getting to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly (lower chamber of the Belarusian parliament). Considering this case the Human Rights Committee concluded that by creating obstacles to the journalist in obtaining information the Government violated Article 19 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the freedom to seek, receive and impart information).
2. Pavel Kazlou against Belarus (№1986/2010) refers to the persecution of a pensioner for criticizing an employee of the insurance company in a letter to the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Belarus. Regarding this matter, the Committee for Human Rights concluded that by persecuting a citizen for criticizing officials, the Government restricted his right to freedom of expression, thus violating Article 19 (2) of the Covenant).
3. Tatsiana Yachnik against Belarus (№1990/2010) refers to a pensioner, Orthodox Christian, who refused to get a new passport due to the alleged presence of anti-Christian symbols (the number of the devil) and as a consequence lost the opportunity to receive a pension. This case was declared inadmissible.
4. Raisa Mikhailouskaya and Aleh Volchak against Belarus (№1993/2010) concerns the liquidation of the public association "Legal aid to the population" by the court. Considering this case, the Human Rights Committee concluded that by eliminating the association on trumped-up reasons, the Government thereby violates the right to freedom of association (Article 22 of the Covenant).
5. Vasil Paliakou against Belarus (№2030/2011) concerns the prohibition of picketing in Homel, seeking to encourage citizens not to participate in the parliamentary elections of 2008. Considering this case, the Human Rights Committee concluded that in each case when a peaceful assembly of citizens is prohibited, the Government of Belarus is required to tell for what purpose it restricts the right to peaceful assembly. Since in this case the Government did not provide any serious arguments, the Committee on Human Rights found a violation of Article 21 of the Covenant.