Belarusian government stops correspondence with UN HRC concerning communication by Viciebsk resident
The Belarusian authorities have refused to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Committee in a case of Mikhail Zhurauliou, a resident of Viciebsk who was fined back in 2012 for distributing independent press. Representatives of the government say that Mr. Zhurauliou’s individual communication was prepared and submitted to the Committee by human rights activist Pavel Levinau.
The recent comments provided by the government criticize the fact that the Committee did not inform the authorities about the reasons for which the victim – Mr. Zhurauliou – was unable to file the complaint himself. Thus, the Belarusian authorities consider it a violation of the procedure for filing complaints to the UN HRC.
Furthermore, the State – the alleged infringer of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – insists that the Committee should not consider any communication from a person until it makes sure that the victim has exhausted all available domestic remedies.
Substantiating its claim, the Belarusian government writes in its comments concerning the complaint: “Information contained in the communication indicates that the person on whose behalf the communication was submitted failed to exhaust all remedies available in Belarus. Mikhail Zhurauliou did not use the right to appeal to the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Belarus”.
Viewing these facts as procedural irregularities, the Belarusian authorities have rejected Mikhail Zhurauliou’s complaint and informed the Committee that further consideration of the complaint would be considered by the State as the author’s promotion of acts not covered by the procedural documents of the Committee, and abuse of the right to appeal to international bodies.
In the last sentence of its commentary of 26 March 2015, the Government of Belarus informs the Committee about the termination of further correspondence concerning Mikhail Zhurauliou’s complaint.
In its comments, Pavel Levinau in turn rejects all the arguments of the State, on the basis of which it has ceased to correspond with the UN Human Rights Committee, and assesses them as groundless, both procedurally and actually.
The human rights activist says that he received the right to appeal to the HRC on behalf of Mikhail Zhurauliou by an official document – the power of attorney. The text of the communication notes that Mikhail Zhurauliou is a disabled pensioner and cannot fully prepare a complaint himself.
It should be noted that in international practice, such a relationship is recognized as legitimate and reasonable and is sufficient for the protection of persons in all bodies, including international mechanisms.
Pavel Levinau also says that the penalty imposed on Mikhail Zhurauliou was appealed in cassation and under supervisory procedures. However, Belarusian courts refused to protect his civil rights.
As for the argument of the State, Mikhail Zhurauliou did complain to the Prosecutor General in April 2013, which ordered the prosecutor of the city of Viciebsk to consider it. However, the Prosecutor failed to challenge the decision. Thus, Pavel Levinau stresses that exhausted both all internal efficiency and extraordinary remedies.
The human rights activist concludes that his actions are no violations of UN procedures, under which the Human Rights Committee should complete its consideration of Mr. Zhurauliou’s complaint.