Viasna writes to UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention over Dzmirty Paliyenka case
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” has informed the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention about the pre-trial detention of Belarusian activist Dzmitry Paliyenka, who is currently held in custody awaiting trial over his involvement in the Critical Mass cycling event on April 29 in Minsk.
Dzmitry Paliyenka is accused of “violent actions” against a road police officer and faces charges under Art. 364 of the Criminal Code.
“Mr. Paliyenka joined a peaceful protest of Critical Mass, which aimed at bringing the Traffic Code in line with the international standards for cyclists’ rights. Police arrived at the place but 20 minutes after the beginning police officers stopped the protest using force instead of guarding people and as a consequence six persons were imprisoned and Mr. Paliyenka was one of them,” says Viasna’s letter.
According to the human rights defenders, “Paliyenka didn’t use violence against law-enforcement officers”, but only attempted to defend his associate Stanislau Kanavalau, who was also detained in the protest and still remains a suspect in the case.
Viasna stresses that Paliyenka’s involvement in the demonstration was a “form of peaceful expression”, a right protected by art. 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. "The detention is also a violation of the activist’s Constitutional rights. According to Art. 33 of the Belarusian Constitution, the State guarantees freedom of opinion and expression, while Art. 35 guarantees everyone’s right to freedom of assembly, meetings, street processions, demonstrations and pickets. The law-enforcement officers, however, ignored the Constitution and took the Criminal Code as a basis for deprivation of liberty, says the address.
Following Paliyenka’s arrest, Belarusian ecological activists shared the information with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, since the activist is viewed as a campaigner for cyclists’ rights. They also raised the topic within the European EcoForum (an ad hoc coalition of environmental citizens’ organizations (ECOs) and other NGOs acting in the UNECE region).
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” issued a statement to demand the activist’s release. Viasna also said that Dzmitry Paliyenka’s case required a “detailed study and an unbiased legal assessment of both the protesters’ actions and the reaction by the police”.
Viasna wrote to the UN-mandated body after it found that the detention Dzmitry Paliyenka was a form of political persecution for his views and activity, while the formal charge is rigged.
The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is comprised of independent human rights experts who investigate cases of arbitrary arrest and detention that may be a violation of international human rights law. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention aims to analyze the legal aspects of detention, its compliance with both domestic and international law. It considers the case, requesting comments from the state and its sources, and then announces its decision, which is also featured in the annual Report by the UN Human Rights Council.