viasna on patreon

HRDs call to decriminalize defamation offenses as 10 more people considered political prisoners

2022 2022-07-12T12:36:48+0300 2022-07-12T12:36:48+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/dif_illustr.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Joint statement by the Belarusian human rights community

July 12, 2022

In response to an increase in the number of cases of conviction and imprisonment of individuals under a number of defamatory articles of the Criminal Code, as well as for insulting state symbols of the Republic of Belarus, and other actions aimed at the lawful exercising of freedom of expression we, representatives of the Belarusian human rights community demand to put the end to the persecution for legitimate expression of views and, reaffirming our repeated calls to decriminalize defamation and to refrain from imposing terms of imprisonment for insulting officials, the state, government agencies, and symbols (as mentioned in the Joint statement of December 22, 2020), note the following:

At the moment we know about the following persons imprisoned for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, police officers, and judges, as well as insulting state symbols:

  1. Mr. Valeryi Trotski, taken into custody under Article 361 of the Criminal Code (calls for restrictive measures, other actions aimed at harming the national security of Belarus) for calls for sanctions against the regime;
  2. Mr. Artsiom Anishchuk, taken into custody under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official in a comment posted on Internet;
  3. Mr. Siarhei Babko, taken into custody under Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  4. Ms. Katsiaryna Balabanovich, taken into custody under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting a government official;
  5. Mr. Uladzimir Serhienka, taken into custody under Articles 369 and 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka and police officers in comments posted on Internet;
  6. Mr. Viktar Rusin, taken into custody under Article 369 of the Criminal Code for insulting government officials;
  7. Mr. Uladzislau Hancharou, convicted under Part 1 of Article 368 of insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, under Article 369 of insulting a government official, and under Article 370 of the Criminal Code of desecrating state symbols and sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment in a penal colony;
  8. Mr. Aliaksei Chekel, sentenced to 18 months of restricted freedom in a penal colony under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  9. Mr. Ihar Faleichyk, sentenced to 24 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under part 1 of article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka;
  10. Mr. Aliaksei Viacherni, sentenced to 21 months of imprisonment in a penal colony under Part 1 of Article 368 of the Criminal Code for insulting Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

In this regard, we consider the persecution and imprisonment of the persons listed above as politically motivated in connection with the peaceful exercise of their views, and the convicts as political prisoners in accordance with paragraph 3.1 (a) of the Guidelines on the Definition of Political Prisoners. We, therefore, call on the Belarusian authorities to:

  1. Immediately release the political prisoners Valeryi Trotski, Artsiom Anishchuk, Siarhei Babko, Katsiaryna Balabanovich, Uladzimir Serhienka, Viktar Rusin, Uladzislau Hancharou, Aliaksei Chekel, Ihar Faleichyk, Aliaksei Viacherni and stop the criminal prosecution against them.
  2. decriminalize defamation offenses and abolish articles of the Criminal Code that provide for liability for insulting the state and state symbols, namely Articles 188, 189, 367, 368, 369, 369-1, 370, and 391 of the Criminal Code, and stop all ongoing criminal cases under these articles;
  3. Immediately release all political prisoners and stop political repression.

Human Rights Center Viasna

Legal initiative

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House

Lawtrend

Belarusian Helsinki Committee

 

Partnership

Membership