Civil Rights Defenders: Belarus Must Drop Charges Against Ihar Komlik and Henadz Fiadynich
Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned by the recent actions of the Belarusian authorities and condemns the harassment of two human rights defenders – Henadz Fiadynich, the Chairman of the Belarusian Independent Trade Union of Radio and Electronic Industry Workers (REP) and Ihar Komlik, the chief accountant of the REP trade union. Civil Rights Defenders calls upon the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ihar Komlik and to drop all charges against Ihar Komlik and Henadz Fiadynich.
On August 2, 2017 officers of the Financial Investigation Department of the State Control Committee of Belarus raided the offices and homes of several leaders of REP trade union. Financial documents and computers were confiscated.
Henadz Fiadynich and Ilhar Komlik were detained during the raid and based on the official information provided by the State Control Committee of Belarus, a criminal case was opened against them. Both are charged under the Article 243, Part 2 of the Criminal Code for tax evasion on a large scale and may face up to seven years in prison with confiscation of property.
Henadz Fiadynich was released the same day after interrogation, while Ihar Komlik remains in police custody. According to the Belarusian human rights organisations, the authorities intimidates civil society representative for their involvement in the protests against Decree No.3 on the prevention of “social parasitism”. It is known that REP gathered over 45 000 signature against the decree and provided legal assistance to individuals.
Civil Rights Defenders recalls the case of Ales Bialiatski, Chairperson of the Human Rights Centre Viasna who was sentenced for tax evasion to four and a half years in prison and confiscation of property as a direct result of his legitimate activities in defence of human rights in Belarus. In 2013, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that his detention was arbitrary and Belarus failed to meet its international human rights obligations.
"Belarus is a signatory to several international conventions on human rights, but in practice rarely, if ever, complies with its international commitments. Civil society organizations continue to have their civil and political rights curtailed. The regime continues to silence the critical voices in the country through harassment, intimidation and detention. This is unacceptable. Belarus should immediately release Ihar Komlik and drop all charges brought against Ilhar Komlik and Henadz Fiadynich," says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eurasia at Civil Rights Defenders.
Civil Rights Defenders urgently calls on the Belarusian Government to:
• Immediately and unconditionally release Ihar Komlik
• Drop all charges brought against Ihar Komlik and Henadz Fiadynich
• Comply with all its international obligations and honour their right to peaceful assembly and association as per Articles 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.