Round table on the occasion of Human Rights Day held in Brest
The round table "Current status and new challenges in human rights work" was held on the initiative of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee in Brest.
Among the participants of the event there were not only human rights, but also representatives of political parties (United Civil Party, Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada), "Fair World"), non-governmental organizations and initiatives ("Tell the truth!", Movement "For Freedom"), Independent Trade Unions (Trade Union of Radio Electronic Industry, Free Trade Union of Belarus), as well as journalists. As pointed by one of the organizers of the meeting, Ihar Maslouski, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights remains the main source of global human rights standards: "It sets the goals and principles, on which a large number of laws and legal instruments is based," said the activist.
As reported by the participants of the round table, they didn't observe significant changes in compliance with and respect for human rights in the Brest region throughout the year. In particular, the topic of mass events still remained a taboo: almost all applications for mass events weren't granted by the authorities. Last year's practice, when the local social-democrats were allowed to hold May Day demonstration, did not continue. All in all, only two pickets were authorized during the year.
Human rights activists also noted that one of the fundamental rights, to elect and be elected, became a paper right even at local elections. The latest local elections were held according to the usual scenario and observers recorded hundreds of violations. Participants of the round table was also pointed that local authorities supported the general trend and started to persecuting independent journalists for their professional activities. The prosecutor's office also issued two warnings for activity on behalf of unregistered organization.
The situation with regard to socio-economic rights of citizens is not that good either. This year in Brest there were documented cases of massive violations of the rights of owners, who were almost forcibly evicted from the city centre to other places. There was also a massive trend when the authorities lent parts of natural water bodies (rivers and lakes) without consulting the citizens. The failure of the state to properly implement the rights to free and high-quality education and health care were discussed as well.
According to the participants, all the decision-making mechanisms do not meet the requirements of time and are not public. Even if the city government announces a public hearing, it does not affect the further decision-making.
“All participants of the round table spoke in favor of closer cooperation for the protection and respect of human rights, and agreed to promote the dissemination of accurate and truthful information. In the near future, local authorities will be sent proposals for the conduct of a permanent citywide round table on human rights,” summarized the results of the meeting Ihar Maslouski.