Viasna alerts UN Special Rapporteurs over persecution for solidarity with REP leaders
The Human Rights Center "Viasna" has written to Mr. David Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, United Nations Special Rapporteur on rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, to highlight the sentencing of 11 opposition activists, who staged a protest outside the House of Justice in Minsk on August 24 to demonstrate solidarity with the convicted leaders of the independent trade union REP Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik.
The message describes in detail the events that occurred after the court of Saviecki district announced its verdict against Fiadynich and Komlik, as a dozen activists held a spontaneous peaceful assembly, were subsequently detained in the pre-trial detention center in Minsk and eventually stood trials and were fined for violation of the rules of organizing and holding mass events. The total amount of fines imposed on the protesters equaled USD 4,786.
“The courts which fined the participants in the spontaneous peaceful assembly did not substantiate the permissible restrictions on the free expression of opinion and the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly established in para. 3 of article 19 and article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and necessary in a democratic society. The courts failed to substantiate how the protest of solidarity with the leaders of the trade union posed a threat to national security, public order, health and morality of the population,” the human rights defenders said in their letter.
International human rights institutions repeatedly drew the attention of the Belarusian authorities to the inconsistency of the Law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” with international standards in the field of peaceful assembly.
One of the points that justify the inconsistency of the Law to international standards is the absence of legal regulation of spontaneous assemblies in the Belarusian national legislation, which are an indispensable sign of a democratic society.
The Human Rights Center “Viasna” asks the Special Rapporteurs to enter into communication with the Government and to urge the Belarusian authorities to stop the persecution of civil society activists for the free expression of opinion.