Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders urges Belarusian authorities to refrain from harassing human rights defenders

2011 2011-01-27T16:11:40+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en https://spring96.org/files/images/sources/absiervatoryjapaabaroniepravaabaroncau-logo.jpg The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International  Federation  for  Human  Rights  (FIDH)  and  the  World  Organisation  Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources that the Belarus Helsinki Committee(BHC)  was  warned  by  the  Ministry  of  Justice  of  the  Republic  of  Belarus  for  “discrediting Belarus” by sending a request for urgent action to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers. 

According to the information received, on January 12, 2011, the Justice Ministry has issued a written warning to BHC for violations of the law on civic organisations and mass media and for spreading dubious information discrediting the law enforcement and justice agencies of the republic. The warning was only delivered to BHC on January 19.

At issue is a letter the organisation sent on January 11, 2011, to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers detailing the intimidation faced by the lawyers of opposition leaders arrested after a large demonstration to protest against Mr. Lukashenko’s victory in disputed elections on December 19, 2010 in Minsk. 

More than 30 opposition leaders face a maximum of 15 years in prison for their role in the demonstration,  which  the  police  violently  dispersed.  Lawyers  have  denounced  the  lack  of access to their clients and the threats of disbarment or worse for bringing their complaints to the news media. In a statement issued on January 12, the ministry declared that the Helsinki Committee’s letter to the Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers was “an attempt to discredit the Republic of Belarus in the eyes of the international community.”

The warning could lead to the closing of the prominent human rights group by a court of law upon request of the Ministry of Justice since, according to Article 29 of the Law on NGOs, the  decision  to  dissolve  an  organisation  requires  two  warnings  issued  by  the  Ministry  of Justice for the same offence during the year. 

The Observatory considers that the warning issued against BHC is a direct reprisal for its  legitimate exercise of the right to make complaints before international human rights bodies in accordance with Article 9.4 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. 

Furthermore,  the  Observatory  urges  the  Belarusian  authorities  to  refrain  from  harassing human  rights  defenders,  and  to  guarantee  their  rights  to  freedom  of  association  and expression. The Observatory more generally calls upon the Belarusian authorities to conform in all circumstances with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.

The  Observatory  also  recalls  that  the  paragraph  8  of  the  OSCE  Parliamentary  Assembly Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Human Rights Defenders and National


Human Rights  Institutions1,  states  that  OSCE  Participating States  recognise  “the need for particular  attention,  support  and  protection  for  human  rights  defenders  by  the  OSCE,  its Institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States”. 

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of Belarus to:

i. Put an end to all forms of harassment against the members of BHC and against all human  rights  defenders  in  Belarus  and  ensure  they  are,  in  all  circumstances,  able  to carry out their work freely without any hindrances;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment against human rights defenders in Belarus;

iii.  Comply  with  all  the  provisions  of  the  United  Nations  Declaration  on  Human  Rights Defenders, , adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular with:

- its Article 1, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”; 

- as well as its Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to  ensure  the  protection  by  the  competent  authorities  of  everyone,  individually  and  in association  with  others,  against  any  violence,  threats,  retaliation,  de  facto  or  de  jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. 

v.  More  generally,  ensure  in  all  circumstances  the  respect  for  human  rights  and fundamental freedoms in accordance with in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.


•President Alexander Lukashenko, ul .Karla Marksa, 38, 220016 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or + 375 172 22 38 72, Email: infogrp@president.gov.by 

•Administration of the President of Belarus

•Head  of  the  Administration  of  the  President  of  Belarus,  Mr.  Vladimir  Vladimirovich Makei, Ul. K. Marksa 34, 220016 Minsk, Fax: + 375 17 226-06-10

•General Prosecutor, Grigory Alekseevich Vasilevich, Internatsionalnaya str. 22, 220050 Minsk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52

•Minister of Justice of Belarus, Mr. Viktor Grigorevich Golovanov, Ul. Kollektornaya, 10, 220004 Minsk, Belarus, Email kanc@minjust.by 

•President of the Supreme Court of Belarus, Mr. Valentin Olegovich Sukalo, Ul. Lenina, 28, 220030 Minsk, Belarus, Email: scjustrb@pmrb.gov.by

•Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, 15 avenue de la paix, 1211  Geneva  20,  Switzerland,  Fax:  +41  22  748  24  51.  Email:


•Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, 192 avenue Moliиre, 100 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2.340.02.87, Email : embbel@skynet.be



   Adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Kiev on July 10, 2007.




Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Belarus in your respective country.



Paris-Geneva, January 26, 2011


Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.  


To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: 

E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org 

Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80 

Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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