Picks of the week
Human Rights Center Viasna announces prison art contest
Convicts of all penal institutions can take part in the contest by sending their artwork to Viasna. The three winners will be awarded two prizes at 100 Belarusian rubles and the main prize – 200 rubles.
The artwork will be exhibited in the premises of the consulting institution for the popularization of legal culture "Rights Territory" from April 15, 2019 for at least one month. The exhibition will be open for free visits. Further, the works will be used in displays (co)organized by Viasna on the territory of Belarus and abroad.
TUT.by editor's case taken to court
According to TUT.BY, the General Prosecutor's office sent the criminal case against Maryna Zolatava, chief editor of the TUT.BY portal, to the Minsk City Court to determine its jurisdiction. The editor is accused of committing a crime under Art. 425 Clause 2 of the Criminal Code (omission of an executive).
The agency concluded that the charge is reasonable and is substantiated by the emerging evidence. Earlier, the Investigative Committee twice dismissed Ms. Zolatava's petition on the termination of criminal prosecution according to Art. 86 of the Criminal Code. This week Maryna Zolatava appealed this resolution.
Zolatava remains the only defendant in the "BelTA case"; all the other defendants — 14 employees of various media outlets — were exonerated and held administratively liable. In addition to fines, the journalists were obliged to compensate for the damages.
Viasna's lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich believes that the prosecution of Maryna Zolatava is a defiant signal primarily to the management of the TUT.BY portal.
"I think the verdict will be guilty, but not connected with deprivation of liberty, because that would be the peak of absurdity. In this case, all human rights organizations and the journalist community would protest both in Belarus and abroad. Ms. Zolatava would become another political prisoner, although the case is already believed to be politically motivated."
Human rights activists demand to prosecute minister Ihar Shunievich
The Human Rights Center Viasna and lawyer Valiantsin Stefanovich sent a petition to the Prosecutor General and the Investigative Committee with the demand to conduct a prosecutor's investigation of discriminatory statements of the Minister of Internal Affairs Ihar Shunievich.
In a recent TV interview, the minister called representatives of the LGBTQ+ community "holey."
Human rights activists say that the Belarusian society already has a rather high level of homophobia that sometimes even leads to hate crimes against life and health of citizens based on their sexual orientation. Instead of confronting such negative phenomena, minister Šunievič presumes to use the jargon characteristic of criminal subculture members or advocates of neo-nazism.
"I, therefore, believe that the actions of the Minister of Interior may fall under the scope of Art. 130 of the Criminal Code (incitement of racial, national, religious or other social enmity or discord),"
- says Valiantsin Stefanovich.
Moreover, human rights defenders informed the independent expert of the UN Human Rights Council on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity Victor Madrigal-Borloz about the public statements of the Minister of Interior and urged him to draw the attention of the government of the Republic of Belarus to the inadmissibility of such statements of state officials and the need for full observance of its international obligations in the field of defense and promotion of human rights.
Journalists fined US$1200 for filming protests in Brest
Authorities continue to harass independent journalists Aliaksandr Liauchuk and Milana Kharytonava. Another fine for the journalist family was ordered by the judge of Leninsky district of Brest Dzmitry Shuryn – 100 basic units, or 2550 rubles.
This time they were tried for covering the protest against the construction of the car battery plant near Brest on November 18. The actual trial took place only on January 9, and the journalists didn't attend it as they didn't see a point in participating in this political farce.
Last year Liauchuk and Kharytonava were tried six times each, the total fine amounted to more than $5,500.
Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code omitted
The Act on Amendments to Some Codes of the Republic of Belarus was published on the National Legal Portal on 18 January 2019. Among other things, the Act eliminates article 193.1 from the Criminal Code providing liability for "illegal activities of a public association, religious organization or foundation or participation in activities thereof."
At the same time, the Act introduces administrative liability for the same actions - a fine of up to 50 basic units Art. 23.88 of Administrative Code). The changes will enter into force six months after publication.
Article 193.1 was added to the Criminal Code in 2005 and provided for the punishment from arrest to deprivation of liberty for up to two years. Over the time of the operation of the article, 17 people were convicted under it.