Restrictions on street protests in Viciebsk violate international human rights standards
In March, human rights activist Pavel Levinau wrote to the General Directorate of Justice of the Viciebsk Regional Executive Committee to protest against decision No. 881 of the Viciebsk City Executive Committee “On mass events in the city of Viciebsk”. A month later he received an answer: the decision is fully consistent with the Constitution and international treaties.
In his letter, Mr. Levinau stressed the fact that since the adoption of these restrictions six years ago local activists have not been allowed to stage a single mass event. The human rights activist tried to disprove the conclusion of the justice department about their compliance with international agreements.
However, head of the executive committee’s department, Siarhei Kanapelka, rejected all the claims. According to him, legal analysis showed that the decision fully complied with international treaties of the Republic of Belarus.
The situation is commented on by human rights activist Leanid Svetsik: “Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by Belarus, clearly states that the state is obliged to respect and ensure to all individuals their civil and political rights. These rights, in particular, include the right to organize and conduct pickets, rallies and marches. Moreover, the state is obliged to adopt such laws and decisions which could enable the exercise of this right by the citizens in the simplest possible way. Other behavior on the part of the authorities will be perceived by the international community as an uncivilized and undemocratic.”
“Perhaps, the decision of the Viciebsk city executive committee formally corresponds to the current legislation. But in fact this decision destroys the principles of a democratic state, i.e. taking every step possible to facilitate citizens in exercising their rights and freedoms. Therefore, human rights activist Pavel Levinau is right in his claims against the decision which prevents the realization of citizens’ right to public events in Viciebsk,” says Leanid Svetsik.