News for 24 Sep 2009

FIDH issues report on Viasna's registration trial

24.09.2009 FIDH issues report on Viasna's registration trial

The International Federation for Human Rights has issued a report based on the organization's observation in the case of Human Rights Association Nasha Viasna versus the Ministry of Justice that was considered by the Supreme Court on 10-12 August 2009.

Viasna to collect torture facts

24.09.2009 Viasna to collect torture facts

Human Rights Center Viasna is compiling a database of tortures and other kinds of inhumane treatment used against people arrested during peaceful demonstrations, says Viasna’s lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich. The human rights expert is sure that this must be done regardless of the probability of prosecuting those responsible for the offences. ‘We are now drawing up a complaint to be lodged with the Prosecutor’s Office, urging the officials to initiate criminal prosecution of policemen, abusing their authority. We consider the facts of beating detainees in police wagons as torture. The actions being cynically demonstrative and used systematically, we also decided to apply the Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), so that it could address the issue by drawing the attention of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Besides, the OMCT has good contacts with the UN Committee against Torture, which is essential to the problem, since Belarus ratified the CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and, therefore, must show its commitment to the provisions of the treaty,’ said Mr.Stefanovich.

Mahiliou city authorities to evict local BPF office?

24.09.2009 Mahiliou city authorities to evict local BPF office?

Mahiliou Regional Economic Court has finished considering the lawsuit brought against the Belarusian Popular Front’s local office by the city housing and utilities department. The officials demanded to evict the party and charge it with BYR 5 mln. of rent. However, the court suggested soliciting a truce, since the department failed to serve the party a notice of assessment before suing it.

No progress in relations between civil society and state, says NGO Assembly

24.09.2009 No progress in relations between civil society and state, says NGO Assembly

The Belarusian Assembly of NGOs has issued its preliminary assessment of the regime’s activities in terms of improving the situation in the field of NGOs in the context of expiry of another period of EU sanctions towards Belarus. During a briefing for representatives of international missions and journalists, Siarhei Matskevich, head of the Assembly’s Working Group, stated that there is no progress in respect of the three issues highlighted by the European Union – the repeal of Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code, the obstacles experienced by NGOs applying for state registration and the introduction of reduced rent rates for them.

24.09.2009 Plainclothes militiamen tried to guard journalist to prosecutor’s office

On September 23, an attempt to break into the apartment of a Radio Racyja correspondent from Brest Zmitser Kisel was made.

The journalist connects this incident with his professional activities and an attempt to guard him to a local prosecutor’s office, Radio Racyja reports.

Two unknown men in mufti tried to break into the apartment of Zmitser Kisel in the morning. They told the journalist they were going to guard him to the prosecutor’s office.

“These two men said I must have gone to the prosecutor’s office with them,” the journalist reminds.

Belarusian regime afraid of independent courts

24.09.2009 Belarusian regime afraid of independent courts

The authorities say they don’t plan to establish the jury institution in Belarus.

Valery Kalinkovich, the deputy head of the Supreme Court of Belarus, said this on September 24.

“The judicial system of Belarus is regularly reformed, but such innovations, as the jury court, are not planned,” Interfax quotes Valery Kalinkovich.

He also noted that the national modern judicial system meets all requirements of time and emphasized that “one must find something inefficient to start reforming”.

“We have never liked too many reforms,” Kalinkovich added.

The website www.charter97.org reminds that Alyaksandr Lukashenka defines power of the Constitutional Court of Belarus by his decrees (it is officially called accretion of power), appoints and dismisses judges. Many trials over Belarusian opposition activists are held behind closed doors. Journalists, Belarusian and foreign human rights activists are not allowed to attend many trials.

Participants of a peaceful rally “No to Russian Occupation!” have recently stood closed political trials in Minsk. 17 opposition activists were detained and beaten up by militia.

24.09.2009 Experts on freedom of speech didn’t believe Pyatkevich

The international journalistic mission has a negative general impression of its visit to Belarus.

The international experts will make an official statement later, “”Yezhednevnik” reports.

Though representatives of international organizations dealing with mass media and freedom of press issues have repeatedly emphasized the aim of the visit wasn’t proving the Belarusians necessity of democratic reforms, but just lending support to national media, the guests have a negative general impression.

It especially concerns meetings with Belarusian officials. European director of the International Federation of Journalists Marc Gruber said telling about the meeting with first deputy head of Lukashenka’s Administration Natallya Pyatkevich they had failed to understand each other.

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