Mahiliou Regional Court turns down appeal in case of confiscation of independent newspapers
On this occasion, Ihar Barysau, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) and editor of the newsletter “NASH Mahiliou”, is preparing a complaint to the Supreme Court, as well as to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Ihar Proshka, Chairman of the Mahiliou Regional Court considered that Judge Stanislau Leuchanka came to the correct conclusion that the seized printed materials had all the features that enabled to view them as media products. According to him, this is evidenced by the newspaper format, logo, information about the editor, place, date and circulation, distribution conditions. This is also evidenced by the inscription “NASH Mahiliou” on the printed materials, which means that it is an independent political media of the city.
The fact that a search report indicated that in the trunk of the car there were newsletters, while a report of an administrative violation says it were leaflets, is no evidence of Ihar Barysau’s innocence, as he disseminated media products, not being their distributor and, according to Ihar Proshka, was rightly convicted of violating the law on mass media. The Judge said that the actions were properly classified under Part 2, Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code.
Lawyer Alena Barysava believes that in this case the authorities violated Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to free flow of information. Restrictions on the performance of the document, which was signed by the Republic of Belarus, may be imposed only in the case of the protection of national security or of public order, health or morals.
“Judge Leuchanka failed to establish the signs of printed products. I mean, what was in the car - leaflets, newsletters or newspapers. But he wrote that he did it in the reasoning of the court ruling. There is another question about the unjustified detention of the car - allegedly for committing hooliganism in Bialynichy, which has never been confirmed. In addition, the law “On Mass Media” applies only to legal entities, instead of individuals,” says Alena Barysava.
On July 16, Ihar Barysau’s private car, in which he transported the newspapers, was stopped by traffic police in a village near Mahiliou. The driver was told that car was allegedly involved in hooliganism in Bialynichy. The vehicle was escorted to the Leninski police department of Mahiliou, where Ihar Barysau was questioned and the newspapers were seized. The police confiscated a total of 11,800 copies.