Decree "On prevention of social dependency" turns all citizens in "obliged persons"

2015 2015-04-06T20:17:00+0300 2015-04-07T15:07:11+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Valiantsin Stefanovich. Photo by

Valiantsin Stefanovich. Photo by

Being a human rights activist, I cannot but make a few observations regarding the Decree No. 3, by which the Presidential Administration amused Belarusian citizens (as well as foreign citizens and even persons without citizenship) last week.

At first I even wanted to write another
skit on this topic, but than it came to me that all this was not that funny. No, not because the action of this Decree spreads on me, so that I am considered to be obliged to pay the levy for the financing of the state expenditures (as some of the readers might think): in fact, every year I fill an income declaration and pay the income tax on the income received, that's why the decree doesn't concern me.

No, I feel said due to the fact that our state, following the best traditions of the immortal and omnipresent Soviet Union, decided to once again show us how to live and what to do with our own lives. Our authorities actively used forced labour of citizens even earlier: such as Subbotniks (voluntary work on Saturday) which have the “voluntary-compulsory form” of participation of almost all employees in the state sector of economy, which is about 70%, the assignment of student to the labour places under the threat of returning the whole cost of the education (which has already been paid by the parents' taxes), forced labour of soldiers in the army, Decree №9 "On additional measures for the development of the wood industry," which forbade workers to retire "for the period of modernization of the enterprise". I'm not talking about such forms of forced labor as "labour therapy” of the alcoholics, isolated in the “activity therapy centres” and the forced labour under the threat of administrative arrest or criminal prosecution of so-called “obliged persons”.

All these forms of forced labour have already been addressed by the independent trade unions and human rigths organizations, as well as the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Now it seems that the president has decided to make all citizenssuch "obliged persons".

The very name of the Decree "On the prevention of social dependency"
seems to have returned to us from either Andropov's or even Stalin's times. It seems to be directed not only against so-called “anti-social elements” whom our government has been fighting along the lines of the Soviet era, but against a much broader category of citizens.

Even in
the Soviet times, housewives, who were engaged in housekeeping and child-rearing were not "parasites." And now we hear from the Minister of Labour and Social Protection Maryiana Shchotkina (which is especially cynical) that after the child went to school upon reaching 7 years old, the mother "has the ability to participate in the financing of the state expenditures” or must work at least half-rate. To put it in other words, she must be employed under the threat of administrative arrests or the obligation to pay the levy of 20 basic units for “social dependency”. And now someone answer me why the state decides for me and my family how we should raise our children, whether to take them to schools (as home education seems problematic under such conditions) and share the responsibilities between the spouses in the family?

And what if someone decides to take a break in one's professional activities for any reasons or lives off his previous considerable savings? Of the savings, for which he has already paid taxes and was much more involved "in the financing of the state expenditures" than some of those who worked more than 183 days a year, receiving a miserable wage and paying likewise miserable taxes?

There may also be the option when a person simply does not want and can not work after becoming a social outcast, degrading and losing all rofessional skills. Such people don't want to participate even in the financing of the expenditures for their own lives, leave alone the state expenditures. Such a person can be just homeless. For this cathegory of citizens the decree provided the opportunity to “settle” the affairs with the state by serving an administrative arrest. According to paragraph 14 of the Decree, a citizen, who serves an administrative arrest with being drawn to public works is considered a person who implemented his duty to pay the levy. The logic is simple: if you have no money to pay – go to jail.

I have the impression that the officials who prepared the text of the Decree competed in who will better "fit" the text of the Decree to the definition of forced labor in Convention №29 of the International Labour Organization.

Forced labor is prohibited by Art. 41 of the Constitution of our country, as well as a number of international covenants ratified by Belarus.

Once again, instead of a serious debate about how to get the economy of the country from the crisis,
how to reform the health and pension systems, we get an unconstitutional document that introduces the institution of forced labor in the entire country.

I have always said that the lack of a public competitive political process in the country leads to stagnation and degradation of public administration.
Not only opposition, but also the state power degrades under such system. Decree No. 3 is an eloquent proof of this.

Valiantsin Stefanovich