Observatory condemns charges against human rights defenders in Belarus
URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
BLR 001 / 1215 / OBS 100
December 3, 2015
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of Mr. Siarhei Kaspiarovich and Ms. Natallia Satsunkevich, observer-volunteers at the joint "Viasna" human rights centre and Belarusian Helsinki Committee observation project, following a peaceful demonstration that took place on November 24, 2015, in the centre of Minsk.
According to the information received, on November 24, 2015, Mr. Kaspiarovich and Ms. Satsunkevich, along with seven participants and three journalists, were issued administrative reports based on article 23.34 of the Administrative Code, which sanctions by a fine or administrative detention the organisation and/or the participation in an unauthorised mass event as well as picketing.
On November 24, 2015, a peaceful protest was carried out in the streets of Minsk to mark the nineteenth anniversary of the 1996 referendum, a poll highly criticised both in Belarus and abroad for dramatically increasing President Lukashenka's powers by modifying several aspects of the Constitution. The protest was organised by the opposition leader and former political prisoner Mr. Mikalai Statkevich, and gathered around 100 people. Before the protest, observers invited at the gathering in the framework of the above-mentioned joint observation project were prepped according to the OSCE Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, wearing blue jackets marked "observer" as well as badges with a photo and their names to facilitate their distinction from participants by the police. Observers from Viasna and the Helsinki Committee monitoring the event did not engage in any activities during the protest, yet they were regarded as participants and issued administrative reports.
The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing administrative harassment of Mr. Siarhei Kaspiarovich and Ms. Natallia Satsunkevich as well as other observers arrested during the protest, which only aims at sanctioning their peaceful human rights activities.
The Observatory is more generally concerned by these attempts by the Belarusian Government to curtail the freedom of association, assembly, and expression of human rights defenders.
Please write to the authorities of Belarus, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Siarhei Kaspiarovich and Ms. Natallia Satsunkevich as well as of the above-mentioned activists and journalists and all human rights defenders in Belarus;
ii. Put an end to all harassment, including at the administrative level, against Mr. Siarhei Kaspiarovich and Ms. Natallia Satsunkevich as well as against the above-mentioned activists and journalists, and against all human rights defenders in Belarus.
iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with:
- Article 1, which states that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" ;
- its Article 12.1 which provides that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms;"
- its Article 12.2 which states that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration."
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Belarus.
1· President Aliaksandr Lukashenka, vul. Karla Marksa, 38, 220016 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or + 375 172 22 38 72, Email: email@example.com
2· General Prosecutor, Alexander Konyuk, vul. Internatsyjanalnaya. 22, 220050 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52
3· Minister of Justice of Belarus, Mr. Oleg Slizhevsky, vul. Kalektarnaya, 10, 220004 Minsk, Belarus, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
4· President of the Supreme Court of Belarus, Mr. Valiantsin Alehavich Sukala, vul. Lenina, 28, 220030 Minsk, Belarus, Email: email@example.com
5· H.E. Mr. Mikhail Khvostov, Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, 15 avenue de la paix, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
6· H.E. Mr. Andrei Yeudachenka, Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, 192 avenue Moliere, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2.340.02.87, Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Belarus in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, December 3, 2015
 The other individuals prosecuted are activists Mikalai Statkevich, Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Maksim Viniarski, Ales Makayeu, Antos Zhylko, Stanislau Paulinkovich, Andrei Davidovich, as well as journalists Dzmitry Halko (from Novy Chas), Halina Abakunchyk (from Radio Svaboda), and Katsiaryna Andreyeva (from Narodnaja Volya).