FIDH urges Belarus’ MFA to implement UN HRC decision in Ales Bialiatski case
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has written to the Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Uladzimir Makei urging the government to respect the country’s international obligations within the framework of the United Nations and to take steps to implement key requirements of the Human Rights Committee in the case of Ales Bialiatski, including the registration of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" and cancellation of his criminal record.
The Committee’s Views were adopted on 24 October 2014, while the human rights defender was still in prison.
"According to the Committee's Views, the refusal of the Belarusian authorities to register the Viasna Association unreasonably restricted the association's members right to freedom of association. Sentencing of Aliaksandr Bialiatski to four and a half years of imprisonment for conducting activities on behalf of an unregistered association was a direct consequence of the violation of the right to free association. In his trial the court did not take into account evidence that the funds were received and spent for the legitimate purposes of the association; that the funds did not constitute A. Bialiatski's personal income and the court did not consider the case in the right to freedom of association. Consequently, the Committee found that prosecution of Aliaksandr Bialiatski constituted a violation of his right to freedom of association.
The Committee also established that the pretrial detention of Aliaksandr Bialiatski was arbitrary since the decision regarding his remand in custody was taken by a prosecutor rather than by a judge. Moreover, the decision was based solely on the grounds of the seriousness of the offence and did not contain any reasoning as to the necessity, reasonableness and proportionality of the custodial measure.
The Committee confirmed that throughout the court proceedings, the presumption of innocence was violated with regards to Aliaksandr Bialiatski, because the State-owned media proclaimed his guilt before the verdict was handed down and because the President of Belarus made a public statement, clearly indicating his position regarding the guilt of Aliaksandr Bialiatski. Moreover, the Committee agreed that bringing Aliaksandr Bialiatski to court and back to the detention facility in handcuffs violated his rights."
The Committee pointed to the violation of Art. 9 (arbitrary detention), Art. 14 (2) (presumption of innocence), Art. 22 (1) (freedom of association) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The petition also stresses that the Committee urged the State party "within 180 days from the date of the adoption of its views, undertake steps that would result in an effective and enforceable remedy to Aliaksandr Bialiatski, including (a) the reconsideration of the application for registration of the Viasna Association, based on criteria compliant with the requirements of Article 22 of the Covenant; (b) annulment of the criminal conviction from his criminal record; and (c) adequate compensation, including reimbursement of the legal costs incurred. The State of Belarus is also under the obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future. In this connection, the State should review its internal legislation to ensure its compliance with the requirements of Article 22 of the Covenant."
The requirements were completely ignored by the Belarusian authorities.
In this regard, FIDH called on the Belarusian Foreign Ministry “to remedy the violations committed against A. Bialiatski, and to fulfill the obligations Belarus undertook under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: namely, the obligation to respect the right to freedom of association, the right to fair trial and the right to liberty and security of person.”
The human rights defenders also urge the authorities “to set forth a concrete plan of action that would bring Belarusian legislation in line with its obligations under the Covenant, put an end to arbitrary refusals to register civil society organisations, including Viasna Association, and cease harassment and intimidation of members of associations who defend human rights.”
Monitoring the implementation of international agreements by state bodies of the Republic of Belarus and assisting in their implementation is one of the key tasks of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
See full text of the open letter in the attachment.