2016 07/06


Decisions of local Executive Committees “on the order of holding mass events” are contrary to the norms of ICCPR and national laws.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 30, 1997 № 114-3 On mass events, decisions of local authorities, governing the organization and holding of peaceful assembly, – all these acts contain provisions relating to freedom of peaceful assembly.

  • Paradoxically, but from the point of view of the law, almost all these norms in the Belarusian legislation do not correlate with each other.

In this article I will try to explain why, in my opinion, decisions of local authorities do not comply with national law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus”. After all, they play a key role in the authorities’ decision-making when they ban peaceful assembly.

 

The requirements in the decisions of local authorities

Conventionally, all the decisions of local authorities on the procedure of organizing and holding mass events can be divided into two categories:

1) when it is required that the organizers at the same time with the application must present agreements with the services of public order, health and clean-up;

2) when there is no such requirement.

The object of my attention is the first group. Such decisions are being taken in the Barysau, Akciabr, Mensk, Rečyca, Kamieniec, Mijory, Puchavičy regions in Šarkaŭščyna, Žodzina, Dubroŭna, Tałačyn and other cities of Belarus.

As a rule, each of the decisions defines permanent venues for the events and the procedures for payment of expenses related to the events. And they contain provisions according to which copies of contracts with organizations that provide protection of public order, health services, cleaning of the territory, are provided by the organizers of the “mass events” to executive committees together with the appeal for holding mass events.

 

The contradiction with the rules of the specialized law

Meanwhile, in Art. 5 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 30, 1997 № 114-3 “On mass events in Belarus”, it is said that to the appeal for holding “mass events” one must add only one written obligation from the organizer who is responsible for organizing and conducting the event. Also, in the appeal for holding “mass eventsmeasures to ensure public order and safety, health care and clean-up should be specified.

But no provision of the Law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” does not oblige the organizer to add to the application contracts with organizations that provide these services.

 

The contradiction with another by-law

Another subordinate normative act is “Regulations of interaction of law enforcement bodies, the organizers of mass events and representatives of general , who fulfill the duties on protection of public order, on the protection of public order and public safety during public events” (stated by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus on March 05, 2012 №207).

It provides that all matters relating to the protection of public order and public security and the development of appropriate ideas

are solved after sending from the executive committee the copy of the application on holding mass events to the territorial authority of the Interior (p. 5).

And only after receiving the copy of the application by internal affairs bodies in conjunction with the organizer and the representatives of the executive committee, the examination of the venue for “mass action” is taking place, after which the executive committee makes appropriate suggestions and on the permission for a mass event is given.

Thus, it follows that the agreement with the Interior organs to ensure public order and safety, preparation of which is not provided by the Law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus”, can be made only after receiving permission from the executive committee.

 

Procedural contradiction

Due to the fact that Art. 5 of the Law “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” does not disclose the meaning of terms

“Measures to ensure public order and safety during public events; measures related to medical care, cleaning of the territory after holding the mass action”

and norms of “Regulations of interaction of law enforcement bodies, the organizers of mass events and representatives of general , who fulfill the duties on protection of public order, on the protection of public order and public safety during public events” define a specific procedure for obtaining permission to carry out “mass action” on the basis of suggestions from law enforcement organs, – in respect of measures for health care and cleaning of the territory after holding the mass event the analogy of the law can be used (Article 72 of the law of the Republic of Belarus of January 10, 2000 № 361-3 “On normative legal acts of the Republic of Belarus”).

This means that the procedure for obtaining permission to hold a mass event should be based on suggestions from the institutions providing medical care and cleaning of the territory, given by them in response to receiving a copy of the application for holding mass events sent from the executive committee.

 

Possible restrictions on the rights and freedoms

According to Art. 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus

restrictions of rights and freedoms shall be permitted only in cases provided by law, in the interests of national security, public order, protection of morality, health, rights and freedoms of others.

In accordance with Part. 1, Art. 71 Law of the Republic of Belarus of January 10, 2000 № 361-3 “On normative legal acts of the Republic of Belarus”

in case of a conflict between normative legal acts, persons of law are obliged to follow the norm act of higher legal force.

 

The requirements are not based on the law

The decisions of the executive committees, which include the requirement to present together with the application copies of contracts with organizations that provide protection of public order, health services, cleaning of the territory:

1. lay obligations to peaceful assembly organizers not provided by the Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 30, 1997 № 114-3 “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus”;

2. determine the procedure for obtaining permission to hold a mass event, contrary to the norms of the Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 30, 1997 № 114-3 “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” and

“Regulations of interaction of law enforcement bodies, the organizers of mass events and representatives of general , who fulfill the duties on protection of public order, on the protection of public order and public safety during public events”, stated by the Council of Ministers on March 5, 2012 № 207.

 

Venues for events and the criterion of publicity

The same decisions of local authorities, as was mentioned above, determine the permanent venue of the “mass events”. Quite often such a place is the only one in the district (city) and is far from the center. How this practice is consistent with the law?

According to Art. 2 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 30, 1997 № 114-3 “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus”

“Mass events” is a meeting, street rally, demonstration, picketing and “other event”. Any of these actions in terminological values enshrined in the Law № 114-3, is determined by the criterion of publicity.

Places set for holding mass events which situate far away from the people, do not match the criterion of publicity.

 

Unacceptable restriction

According to Art. 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus
restrictions of rights and freedoms shall be permitted only in cases

  • prescribed by law,
  • In the interests of national security, public order, protection of morality, health, rights and freedoms of others.

Accordingly, any decision establishing a venue for mass events in violation of publicity criteria restrict the right of citizens to hold public events, in cases not provided for by the Law of the Republic of Belarus of December 30, 1997 № 114-3 “On Mass Events in the Republic of Belarus” and in contradiction with requirements of Art. 23 of the Constitution and Art. 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

 

The need to remove the contradictions through the abolition of illegitimate claims

In accordance with Part. 2 Art. 77 of Law of the Republic of Belarus of January 10, 2000 № 361-3 “On normative legal acts of the Republic of Belarus”

in the case of normative legal acts have discrepancies and contradictions with acts of higher legal force, as well as internal conflicts or other defects, the rulemaking authority is obliged to remove them.

Conclusion:

decisions of local executive committees on the order of organizing and holding mass events, which contain the above-mentioned restrictions on the right of citizens must be brought into line with current legislation.

 

Aleh Mackievič,
lawyer of the HRC “Viasna”, the graduate of education program ILIA of Human Rights House Network at HRH in Vilnius,
specially for the Belarusian Legal Portal, Prava-BY.INFO

Prepared by Ales LETA,
Belarusian Legal Portal
www.prava-by.info

Photo: Alaksiej Łapicki, Lićviny-INFA

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