2013 07/12

Aliaksei Lapitski, Zhodzina

Belarusian authorities in all appearances, are in a hysterical fear of massive public protests, as well as in hopes to somehow fill up the “leaky state budget”, and as if on a fully legal grounds began to lay down conditions to applicants of peaceful assemblies (picketings, rallies, marches) about the conclusion of payment agreements with the militia, health care and community services.

In Grodno “folk servants” took the initiative and even “crank out” a specific amount – counted more than 21 million rubles to pay for holding a two-hour picket by a small number of participants, up to 10 people (!?). And it’s not a tragic comedy or a fantasy, not a “movie from the Internet”, this is our “democratic and right” Belarusian reality in which “rules” an absolutely unpunished and impudent ordinary uneducated or completely illiterate in matters of law merchants-ideologist, just a thief.

And that’s how we live. The Constitution says about government guarantees, and the government – about paid arrangements, as a prerequisite to use such guarantees!(?)

Is it not an absurd? And then what are the positive obligations of Belarus to create favourable conditions for the realization of citizens’ right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression? Could it be that the prosecutor is “sleeping”, while the ideologist, “rolls up his sleeves” and sells a constitutional right?

In this regard it should be noted that under law, any (especially paid) contract is for its subjects a voluntary establishment of mutual obligations and limitation of their respective rights and freedoms. Therefore, by imposing such an order (through obligatory payment for agreements) of implementation of civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution (art. 23, art. 35 of the Constitution of Belarus), the authorities completely lawlessly “offer” the applicants (supposedly voluntary) to abandon their own inalienable right to such guarantees from the state and, by limiting their rights much more than is necessary in art. 23 of the Belarusian Constitution and Art. 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) they quite deliberately are trying to put them in a clearly discriminatory conditions (compared with the representatives of any other pro-government structures such as BRSM, White Russia, the Red Cross… and so on, for which the law “On Mass Events” works in a different order, without any payments and payment arrangements – just “by the decision of public authorities”- it is proved in Zhodzina Court in 2012).

Why such a simple procedure (which really is the constitutionally guaranteed) shall not be applied to any other citizens’ activities falling under the category of a “peaceful assembly”?

By agreeing to the contractual payment procedure to exercise their inalienable Constitutional rights, legal subjects are deprived of such rights and constitutional guarantees are put in even worse conditions than those that exist for applicants of commercial (or sporting) events.

For example in Zhodzina (as it turned out here during the court session in 2011) there is a practice, when the organizers of commercial events conclude payment agreements parallel to applying to the Executive Committees. As for the applicants of pickets (non-profit activities) i.e. peaceful assemblies it is required to come into the same payment arrangements (for the same price), but before the submission of the application (!?).

This indicates the obvious obstacles in the implementation of law by representatives of the ideological departments of the Executive Committees which consciously and intentionally violate constitutional norms and international standards of law in the field of civil rights and liberties – they do it in a coordinated and organized manner and with the excess power of official authority (!). And no one of them is liable under the law!

Based on the marked above, referring to the recent cases and the discriminatory practices, it seems that human rights defenders and the applicants of peaceful assemblies in Belarus, who are forced today to abandon the Constitutional guarantees introduced by the obligation to enter into such mandatory (and thus not having any legal force) payment agreements with budgetary militia, health care and public utilities institutions, should raise the question (to the higher authorities, regional Executive Committees of the National Assembly of Belarus, the Council of Ministers… and other bodies and courts (Supreme and Constitutional) about illegitimacy and impossibility of such claims, about the need to abolish them as contradictory to the Constitution and international human rights standards recognized in ICCPR.

Taking into account such a negative experience, the conclusion of Venice Commission regarding the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On mass events”, the latest solutions of UNCHR (“Housha vs Belarus” and so on.), which exactly say about the need to change the law and practice relating to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression, it is important to declare the need for changes and clarifications to the existing law. After all, any provisions of the law are treated today and are used by the authorities exclusively with the discriminatory-restrictive positions that contradict the norms of the Civil Code, the Constitution and ICCPR, absolutely excluding existing positive obligations of the State under which the executive committees are obliged not to interfere with the implementation of the law, and should create favourable conditions for citizens’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly, free flow of information and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Basic Law.

Aliaksei Lapitski
specially for Belarusian Legal Portal

Photo by A.Lapitski

2 thoughts on “While “prosecutor is sleeping” – ideologist is trading constitutional right…?”

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