Valiantsin Stefanovich speaks against the clear-up of the informational space under the disguise of fight against drug trafficking
During his speech at the meeting on combating illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances on December 4 the Interior Minister Ihar Shunevich said that there was an urgent need to adjust the legislation related to Internet activities. In particular, in his opinion, all Belarusian Internet users must be prohibited access to the websites put on the list of restricted access. It is known that this list includes some independent sites, such as charter97.org, belaruspartisan.org, spring96.org, the blog of Yauhen Lipkovich in livejournal and other socio-political sites.
Back in late 2013 deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich received a message from the Prosecutor General's Office of Belarus that the website of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" was included in the list of resources with limited access by its decision in August 2011 on the grounds that "actions on behalf of the human rights organization "Viasna" that has not passed the state registration in the established order is contrary to the laws of the Republic of Belarus."
After that Valiantsin Stefanovich appealed to Tsentralny District Court of Minsk with a complaint against the decision of the General Prosecutor's Office.
February 18, 2014 Tsentralny District Court ruled that Valiantsin Stefanovich didn't possess a proper legal personality as he wasn't the owner of the site www.spring96.org he couldn't be regarded as a victim of putting the wesbite on the “black list” and could not appeal this decision at court.
Let us remind that in February 2014 the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders expressed concern about the court decision to limit access to the website of the HRC "Viasna".
Human rights activists welcome the authorities' measures to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking in Belarus, but disagree with the fact that under this pretext, the government is trying to clean up the already limited independent information space.
The situation is commented by deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich: "Yes, I personally support measures to strengthen the fight against the proliferation and trafficking of drugs, but I am categorically against limiting the constitutional rights of expression, dissemination and retrieval of information. We view and regard the inclusion of the website of HRC "Viasna" in the list of restricted access by the General Prosecutor's Office as a manifestation of censorship and a form of pressure on our organization, which is engaged in legitimate activities in defense of human rights."