UN Special Rapporteur updated on increasing harassment of lawyers in Belarus
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" has updated Ms. Mónica Pinto, Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council on the independence of judges and lawyers, on the latest developments related to the pressure on lawyers in Belarus.
“Condemning any unjustified interference of the executive authorities in the activities of the Bar, we also draw attention to the fact that one of the lawyers, who will be deprived of the license following the certification procedure, Ms. Hanna Bakhtsina, has a long record of successful work as a lawyer, known for her participation in defense during the investigation and in the trials of defendants in politically motivated cases. Two lawyers among those who are still expected to be re-attested, Ms. Natallia Matskevich and Ms. Darya Lipkina, are also experienced and highly educated lawyers and are known for the defense of civil and political activists. These results of the first stage of attestation confirmed the forecasts of human rights defenders who earlier said the authorities might apply to this means of interference in the activities of the Bar in order to exert pressure on lawyers and on lawyers’ associations,” says the letter.
According to the Human Rights Center "Viasna", on September 12, the Qualification Commission of the Ministry of Justice held its first meeting to hear the qualification case of at least twenty-one lawyers, of which at least two lawyers were deemed not fit for the profession due to allegedly inadequate qualifications, and three more lawyers were found not fully compliant with such requirements. These three attorneys will be subjected to re-certification in six months.
Human rights activists are asking the UN Special Rapporteur to urgently call on the Belarusian authorities to refrain from further interference in the activities of the Bar, and also to refrain from harassment and repression of individual lawyers.
On September 6, ahead of the announced certification of lawyers, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" wrote to Ms. Pinto asking her to pay close attention to the harassment of counsels in Belarus.