Court in Mahiliou dismisses suit to close human rights NGO
The Mahiliou Regional Court resumed today the consideration of a lawsuit filed by the Main Department of Justice of the Mahiliou Regional Executive Committee to close down the public association “Mahiliou Human Rights Center” (MHRC).
As a result, the court ruled to dismiss the suit by mutual agreement of the parties.
The Department of Justice was trying to close the oldest human rights NGO in the region because of problems with the legal address. As stated in the lawsuit, the MHRC violated the law by not submitting to the Department the necessary documents for the state registration of changes of its legal address. The lawsuit also argued that since 5 December 2014 the NGO had not occupied the premises specified in its Charter, since the lease agreement was unilaterally terminated by the landlord.
In late 2014, the Department of Justice tried to suspend the activities of the organization in court, but the human rights defenders managed to solve the problem: they entered into a lease agreement, which was soon broken by the lessor.
According to information received by the Human Rights Center "Viasna", the head of the Mahiliou Human Rights Center, Uladzimir Krauchanka presented to the court a letter of guarantee from the new landlord, who agreed to provide a legal address to the organization so that it could make changes in its Charter.
Uladzimir Krauchanka says that all previous owners of the premises, which terminated lease agreements, violated the law under pressure from local authorities.
Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Ales Bialiatski attended the trial to support his colleagues. Before the trial, he read out a statement in support of the MHRC, which was issued yesterday by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.
The Mahiliou Human Rights Center has been active since 1998. Today, the MHRC is the only officially registered regional human rights organization in Belarus.