2011 17/09

Zhodzina town

Zhodzina human right defenders try to reinstate constitutional right to peaceful assembly of citizen’s freedom of expression and information in court.

But is Belarusian court capable to administer justice today?!

Over the past 7 years not a single peaceful assembly of citizens was allowed here. Citizens who exercised their constitutional right without a “resolution of executive committee leadership” were administratively prosecuted, arrested and imprisonment for periods from 3 to 7 days (!?). They are obviously discriminated in the current Belarusian society on the basis of their beliefs (which differ from the officially promoted), or political opinion and language… At the same time, pro-government organizations such as BRSM (Belarusian Republican Youth Union)… who work directly with the executive committees out of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus “- they organize all their activities freely, without any problems.

In connection with another Zhodzina executive committee’s refusal of a peaceful assembly (picketing), on 15.09.2011 Aliaksey Lapitsky and Sviatlana Lapitskaya, the applicants of the events, appealed to Zhodzina city court against the actions of city government, which once again groundlessly banned holding a peaceful assembly of citizens.

Сьвятлана Лапіцкая, Жодзіна

Sviatlana Lapitskaya, Zhodzina

Picketing in support of a well-known human rights activist, the head of the HRC “Viasna” Ales Bialiatsky, was filed for 07.08.2011 in view that it would be hold on 08.22.2011 at the officially sanctioned place in the Zhodzina City Park. The applicants were not promptly informed about the negative decision which was violation of the law. The response with the event refusal, prepared by the head of the ideological department A. Haretskaya and signed by Y.Shary on 16.08.2011, was sent to the applicants on 18.08.2011 and reached the recipients only on 19.08.2011. That is, the applicants were informed about the refusal of the event not 5 days before the event but 3 days before the date of the picketing planned for Friday, 22.08.2011. Moreover, the document did not contain specific reasons for which the event was denied.

Moreover, all attempts of the applicants to arrange a direct mailing and communication with officials of the executive committee immediately after receiving the reply on 19.08.2011 faced more violations of their civil rights and freedoms.

Only on 09.07.2011 the applicants received answers to the urgent questions the leadership of the executive committee was asked. The answer notes that questions of ensuring order and security during the picketing, as well as the provision of medical care and clean up after the event were “insufficient”.

However, human right defenders point to the lack of “legal criteria for” determining “sufficiency” or “insufficiency» of all the necessary measures that the organizers of the picketing have taken upon themselves. And there is no possibility of the authorities to objectively assess the adequacy of legal measures (including the declared format of the event, scales, time and place of the picketing, assurances and suggestions from the organizers …) in conditions of unwillingness of the executive committee’s leadership to communicate, and coordinate intention to implement these measures by the parties according to law provisions of Articles 10, 11 and 13.

The applicants draw attention of the court to the fact that “assembly of citizens may be prohibited only under sufficiently important reasons established by the Constitution (Article 23) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 21):
– If the restrictions are
“based on law” (public accessible and clearly understandable provisions which are consistent with the relevant requirements of the Constitution and accepted international standards of law);
– If they are implemented
“in the interests of national security, public order, morality, public health, rights and freedoms of others”, as well as
– If these restrictions are “necessary in a democratic society” (Article 21 ICCPR). “

In their appeal to the court human rights activists argue that “the official refusal-response from 07.09.2011 (!) brought the ground for banning peaceful activities claimed on 08.22.2011 (!) to the notice of the applicants untimely, moreover, it is “illegal and lawless, because in spite of the competence given to local authorities in making decisions whether to approve or deny the event, the law clearly prescribes the duty of responsible persons of power to” promote the public “in the realization of guaranteed by the Constitution (Article 35) the right to peaceful assembly.”

It is noted that the relevant law “defines the organization and conduct of meetings, rallies, marches, demonstrations, picketing and other mass events and is aimed at creating conditions for the realization of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, public safety and order during these events held in the streets, squares and other social places in the Republic of Belarus.”– therefore, its provisions can not be read and explained any other way and be aimed at creating contrived and artificial barriers, including the procedural and formal implementations for citizens in realizing their mentioned rights and freedoms – believe the applicants.

Аляксей Лапіцкі, Жодзіна

Aliaksiey Lapitsky, Zhodzina

Aliaksiey Lapitsky:
– When appealing to the court, we note the number of violations on the part of certain officials of the executive committee, who have clearly ignored the rules of the Law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” and “On citizens’ applications”, and who deliberately interfered with the applicants to conduct peaceful assembly (picketing), committed lawless restriction of fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms guaranteed by the state and stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

We especially emphasize that the event we have declared “does not violate the law and order and rights of other citizens of the Republic of Belarus” and that according to Art. 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, it must be “guaranteed” by state authorities of Zhodzina and can not be banned.

In their appeal to the court the applicants ask to restore their right to conduct peaceful activities and “to oblige the chairman of Zhodzina executive committee M. Amelyanchuk and his deputy, Yury Shary in accordance with Art. 33 and Art. 35 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus (Art. 19 and Art. 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) to ensure conduction of peaceful of activities in other, additional day and time at the officially sanctioned place in Zhodzina, in accordance with the application of 07.08.2011.”

Міхал Амельянчук, Жодзінскі выканкам

M. Amelyanchuk, Zhodzina executive committee

In order to regulate and solve important questions for the objective procedural applications – “to obligate leadership of the executive committee in accordance with its competencies to inform the appropriate services and law enforcement agencies for the latter to perform their duties in maintaining public order and security in the city taking into account time and venue of the event” and in the future – “to coordinate with relevant agencies and applicants the necessary “measures to ensure public order and security during public events,” and “measures relating to health care, cleaning of the territory after holding a public event.

It is also suggested “taking into account the applicant’s status, format, purpose (commercial or public, non-profit) and the size of the planned activities – to put into practice of the executive committee an accessible and understandable to every citizen algorithm of coordination of the requirements of the executive committee and abilities of the applicants about the above-mentioned measures to maintain law and order, health, cleaning the site after the event, as well as sample forms and letterheads of tentative agreements and tariffs (if is needed) for executing agreements with the relevant city establishments, other entities, natural persons and legal entities, able to perform essential functions.”

As explained by Aliaksiey Lapitsky, Judge T. Tratsiuk recorded the appeal, and she is likely to take the proceedings in this case.

In our turn, let us remind that the mentioned officer serves as a deputy chairman of Zhodzina City Court and by analogy with the executive committee, is probably in charge of all matters related to ideology, social activity, relations of the leadership of the executive committee with citizens … She examines almost all cases concerning violations of rights and freedoms by the authorities and already has a sad record of unnecessarily harsh and arbitrary decisions in order to punish citizens for the realization of their rights and freedoms, as well as the unconditional protection of senior officials from the relevant legal responsibility.

In such circumstances, the question “Can Zhodzina court conduct justice at all when it comes for violations of rights and freedoms…?!” – has a predictable negative response.

However, it is becoming absolutely clear that without the destruction of the corrupted corporate dependence of courts on a single vertical of power in the country nothing will happen to normalize the situation with the rights and freedoms of citizens in Belarus.

Therefore, without solving the political issues of separation of powers and to obtaining full independence of courts – one can not expect the resumption of constitutional law, the implementation of the Belarusian authorities of their duties to their citizens in full compliance with the Basic Law of the country and the international agreements on human rights.

And without it we never wait for this “better future”, will never regain the trust of civilized nations and influential organizations in the world, will not raise the investment attractiveness and appropriate rating of the country, will not be able to achieved enviable rates of sustainable economic development and welfare of its citizens – we will not achieve peace in the Belarusian society, which continues to be destroyed by savage medieval authoritarianism in terms of one-party, clan nomenclature lawlessness.

As you can see – there are no small legal issues … but there is a great need for truly legal and democratic state for the return to normal “constitutional order” and the constitutional legality in the country.

This subject today, as well as yesterday, is extremely urgent and relevant for the whole current judicial elite constrained of its decisions, for every citizen insulted and injured by bureaucratic dictates for a non-free and more moving away from the values of the civilized world and a united Europe Belarus …

Ales Volny,
Belarusian Legal Portal,

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