2011 01/09

Not being able to obtain justice in Belarusian courts, Vitebsk residents are forced to seek help from international organizations. Thus, it became known that the UN Human Rights Committee accepted the complaint of one of the oldest members of the BNF Conservative Christian Party, its Vitebsk branch, – Yan Dzerzhavets.

Dzerzhavets asks the authorities to recognize the Republic of Belarus guilty of violating paragraph 2 of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. On July 29, 2011 the Committee had registered the appeal of Yan Dzerzhavets under number 2076/2011.

Part 2 of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression: this right includes freedom to seek, receive and spread information and ideas regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of artistic works, or otherwise at one’s choice. ”

The reason for filing the appeal to the authoritative UN body was actions of Belarusian authorities against him, which took place on November 22, 2010. On this day, the well-known representative of the opposition party came to the center of Vitebsk holding a poster saying “Only boycott”, wishing to show people his views on the upcoming presidential election. But people in uniform didn’t let Yan Dzerzhavets to stand there for a long time. Law enforcement officers arrested him and, having made the appropriate protocol, took him the same day to the Railway district court of Vitebsk.

Judge A. Tsyhankova made her decision without immediately. She treated actions of Dzerzhavets as violation of Part 1 of Article 23.34 (“Violation of the organization order or holding mass events or picketing”) of the Administrative Code and fined him 350 thousand rubles.

CCP BPF activist tried to restore his civil and political rights in the courts of Belarus. He appealed the judge Tsyhankova’s decision in the Vitebsk region Court and in the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus. However, those instances left his complaint without satisfaction. So, after going through all the possible procedures to protect his rights from the authorities of the country, Yan Dzerzhavets decided to appeal to the Committee on Human Rights.

In the appeal to the Committee Dzerzhavets wrote: “The state interrupted my participation in the agitation for the boycott of the elections through its representatives (militia) by arresting me, delivering to the police department to draw up a protocol, taking me to the court. Thus I was deprived of the right to express opinion and spread information of a public importance. Therefore I think that the state authorities have violated my civil and political rights of carrying out the action, which was organized to publicly express my opinions and distribute information on possible participation in the boycott of presidential elections in the Republic of Belarus”.

The activist asks the Committee on Human Rights to recognize Belarusian authorities guilty of violating paragraph 2 of Article 19 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to offer the Republic of Belarus to eliminate violations and to restore his rights.

Yan Dzerzhavets – is not the first Vitebsk citizen, who appealed to UNO with such a request. According to the words of Vitebsk human rights activist Leonid Svietsik, “Over the past five years Human Rights Committee has received more than twenty complaints of the kind from Vitebsk region. Most of the complaints concern violation of the right to express one’s opinion”.

“It has become commonplace – continues Leonid Svietsik – that executive authorities do not allow holding mass events and picketing. Moreover, when activists appeal to courts to protect their civil and political rights enshrined in the Constitution, the courts deny the applicants protecting their rights. Practically there was not a single case when courts took the position of citizens but not of the executive branch. So, after going through the courts in the country, Belarusian citizens are forced to seek protection of their rights in various international organizations, including the Committee on Human Rights”.

Quoting “For Human Rights”,
Prepared by Ales LETA,
Belarusian Legal Portal,

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