Human rights defenders insist on independent analysis in Eduard Palchys case
Viasna activists do not rule out a political motive in the persecution of critical blogger Eduard Palchys, but stress that an unbiased examination of his texts should be carried out, Valiantsin Stefanovich said in his comment for naviny.by.
Little is yet known about the case of Eduard Palchys, nicknamed Jhon Silver at the 1863x.com website. His relatives are reluctant to contact reporters and to disclose any details, while the investigating authorities confine themselves to uncluttered messages. Some politicians and opposition activists were quick to say that the charges were politically motivated, since Palchys’ publications defended the independence of the country. However, human rights activists are in no hurry to give a clear assessment of the case unless more details are disclosed. At the same time, they quickly responded to a ban on access to a lawyer, naviny.by said.
Valiantsin Stefanovich of the Human Rights Center Viasna, who has been monitoring the blogger’s case, says that the right to legal protection is guaranteed to all Belarusian citizens by Article 62 of the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure.
“A citizen has the right to be protected from the moment of detention,” Stefanovich said. “This includes, in particular, the possibility of unhindered and confidential meetings with a lawyer, unlimited in frequency and duration. The right to protection is one of the basic procedural safeguards.”
Stefanovich stressed that, according to Palchys’ former lawyer, she was not allowed to see her client for quite a long time, which violated his rights.
“That’s why we made a statement, as we had repeatedly witnessed such violations before,” the human rights activist said.
At the same time, Viasna’s representative does not rule out political grounds for the persecution of the critical blogger.
“But in order to draw conclusions, we have to analyze those texts, which, according to the investigation, incited hatred, and to obtain information concerning the publication of pornography on the website,” Stefanovich said. “We assume that an examination may have groundlessly found elements of hate speech in Palchys’ texts.”
Stefanovich said that it is essential to examine the posts by experts, for example, from the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
“It is not until then that we can draw conclusions about the nature of Palchys’ persecution: either for expressing his opinion or for inciting hatred (hate speech),” the human rights activist said. “Hate crimes should not be tolerated by the state.”
Eduard Palchys was detained on the territory of the Russian Federation in late Janury. He was then arrested and extradited to Belarus. He is facing charges under Part 1, Art. 130 (“incitement to racial, national or religious enmity or discord”), and Part 2, Art. 343 (“dissemination of pornographic materials”) of the Criminal Code.