REPRESENTATIVES OF UNREGISTERED NGOs CHALLENGE JUSTICE MINISTRY
On the eve of the Day of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights representatives of unregistered organizations addressed the Ministry of Justice asking for reasons of not being registered. They urge to dissolve the Commission for registration of NGOs, to start the work on a new law about non-governmental organizations, and to work out a democratic and transparent upon-request procedure of registration of non-governmental organizations and associations.
Minister V.G. Halavanow
Ministry of Justice
Copy: mass media
The Republic of Belarus declared it is a rule-of-law, democratic state. According to article 36 of the Belarusian Constitution, citizens of the Republic of Belarus have the right to initiate non-governmental organizations and join the existing NGOs.
The Decree of the President of the Republic of Belarus #2 "About some measures to regulate the activities of political parties, trade unions, and other non-governmental associations" created the National commission for registration (re-registration) of non-governmental organization. At the same time, the Decree approved the Stature, which establishes the procedure and conditions for state registration of non-governmental organizations.
At present none of the national or local non-governmental organizations or associations can receive registration without the approval of the Commission for registration (re-registration) of NGOs. All newly-created organizations, in order to get a permission for registration, have to undergo the Commission expert examination, which in reality becomes a political censorship. The Commission, initiated by the President of the Republic of Belarus, consists of representatives of the KGB, the Ministry of Justice, Security Council, and other state bodies.
Neither the status of the Commission, nor its decision-making procedure are fixed in any of the existing Belarusian legislation. The Commission works on a secret basis, its meetings are closed for representatives of the non-governmental organizations, which are considered on the meeting. The time of its meetings is held in secret; often the Commission does not hold any meetings for several months.
During the last several years the Ministry of Justice denied registration to a series of human rights NGOs, such as "Helsinki-XXI", "Legal Defense of Citizens", "Human Rights Center", "Right Defender", "Human Rights House".
A big number of organizations can not receive registration because they have difficulties with their legal address. Recently, the Ministry again groundlessly deferred consideration of registration application, submitted by the Assembly of Democratic NGOs.
It is an established practice, that during court hearings of appeals against refusal in registration, the representatives of the justice bodies refer to the fact, that, in their opinion, the norms of international laws and the Constitution have only a declarative character and need specification, provided by the inner legislation.
At the same time, Art.22 part 2 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights states, that the right of every person to association "is not a subject of any restrictions, besides those, which are carried in the law and are necessary in a democratic society for the benefit of state or public security, public order, protection of health and morals of the population, or defense of the rights and freedoms of other persons".
We ask the Ministry of Justice, to act according to the Law "On addresses of citizens" and explain the following:
1. What law establishes concrete restrictions on realization of the right of Belarusian citizens to form associations with other people?
2. What are concrete benefits of the society, listed in Art 22 par 2 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, which made the justice bodies deny registration to such newly-created human rights organizations, as "Helsinki-XXI", "Legal Defense of Citizens", "Human Rights Center", "Right Defender" (Smarhon), and "Human Rights House" (Smarhon)?
3. What is the "necessity for the democratic society" to deny registration to newly created human rights organizations?
4. To what extent such denial in registration of these organizations really meets the "necessity" and to what extent such denial is commensurate to the "necessity for the democratic society"?
Besides that, we would like to inform You, at the Minister of Justice, about the fact, that we, founders of human rights non-governmental organizations, have no access to justice. It is not possible to appeal against the actions and rulings of the National Commission for Registration (Re-registration) of Non-Governmental Organizations, because the Commission is not a juridical person, and thus cannot be sued in court.
We call on You, Minister Halavanow, to introduce a motion to the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus to close down the above mentioned Commission.
On the eve of the 54th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we, founders and initiators of non-governmental organizations, remind the following:
 The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus confirms the rights and freedoms of every citizens and is the fundamental Law on the Belarusian territory;
 the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights is a multilateral international agreement and is obligatory for all parties, which signed it, including the Republic of Belarus.
 Respect for human rights, declared by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international law documents;
 Strict adherence to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus.
WE DRAW ATTENTION
 Of the UN Committee on Human Rights to the fact, that the Republic of Belarus flagrantly violates the requirements of Art 12 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights.
 The National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus to start the work on the new law on non-governmental organizations, which would meet the international norms and the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus;
 The President of the Republic of Belarus to dissolve the Commission for Registration (RE-registration) of non-governmental organizations;
 The Ministry of Justice to work out a democratic and transparent procedure of on-request registration of non-governmental organizations and associations.
Proceeding form the responsibility for the present and the future of Belarus, we urge to support, instead of impeding and neglecting, activities of non-governmental organizations in the country.
We believe, citizens' initiatives, directed at creation of various non-governmental organizations, serve further democratization of our state and development of civic society, as well as strengthening the authority of our country on the international level.
On behalf of unregistered organizations:
Aleh Volchak, Raisa Mikhailowskaya ("Legal Defense of Citizens", Minsk)
Ales Bialatski, Siarhei Matskevich ("Assembly of Democratic NGOs". Minsk)
Barys Zvoskaw ("Helsinki-XXI", Minsk)
Yaraslaw Mantsevich ("Veras", Vitebsk)