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"We associate this with his activities in the protection of human rights." The statement of Viasna in connection with a new criminal case against Leanid Sudalenka

2023 2023-11-08T18:07:51+0300 2023-11-08T18:07:51+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

In connection with the information about the beginning of a new criminal prosecution of human rights defender and former political prisoner Leanid Sudalenka for "promoting extremist activities", we, members of the human rights center Viasna, declare the following.

We associate these steps with Leanid's public condemnation of the repressive policy of the Belarusian authorities towards political opponents and dissidents, his speeches in support of political prisoners, harsh criticism of violations of the rule of law, and in general with the activities of our colleague in the protection and promotion of human rights.

In accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, everyone has the right to freely adhere to their opinions, as well as the right to freedom of expression. This right includes the freedom to seek, receive, and disseminate all kinds of information and ideas, regardless of state borders, orally, in writing or through print or artistic forms of expression, or by other means of one's choice. Any restrictions on this right must be established by law and be necessary to respect the rights and reputation of others, to protect state security, public order, public health or morals.

In accordance with the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and jointly with others, to promote and strive to protect and exercise human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels, including to freely publish, transfer, or to disseminate opinions, information and knowledge about all human rights and fundamental freedoms to others; to study, discuss, formulate, and have opinions on the observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms both in legislation and in practice, and to attract public attention to these issues using appropriate means.

Arbitrary actions of the Belarusian authorities restricting these rights are needless; they constitute politically motivated persecution and must be strongly condemned.

We emphasise that it is inadmissible to use anti-extremist legislation to persecute activists and human rights defenders for their legitimate activities, and it is unacceptable to use extremely broad definitions in the law that allow weaponizing the law as a means of political repression. We reject the permissibility of criminalizing the activities of pro-democratic public initiatives, human rights organizations, and the media by arbitrarily recognizing them as "extremist formations", as well as criminalizing ties with these entities.

We demand:

  • to stop the criminal prosecution of human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka;

  • to stop criminal prosecution of citizens for exercising freedom of expression and activities in defense of rights and freedoms;

  • to bring anti-extremist legislation in line with Belarus' international human rights obligations.

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