2016 25/05

How to resist the closeness of local representative bodies and defend our right to receive a complete, reliable and timely information.

At the last session of the Połack Deputies District Council on March 23 representatives of the Belarusian civil society were not allowed. This practice deprives the ability of voters to receive information and to make public control over the work of deputies.

• Citizens can appeal to the international court about violation of the right to receive information after if they exhaust of all effective domestic remedies by the domestic judicial procedures. For citizens of Belarus the only authority of this kind is the Human Rights Committee (HRC) of the UN in Geneva.

The presence of a voter at the session of the Deputies Council is possible only after the permission of the chairman. However, the chairman of Połack District Council responds to the written requests with the same phrase: “your presence is not necessary”.

This makes the work of “representatives of the people” at their sessions completely closed to the average voter.

Połack consumers are vulnerable

Clearly not an adequate solution is the refusal of admission the Chairman of Połack consumers’ protection organization to the session during the consideration by the deputies of the issue of trading and performance of Law of the Republic of Belarus “On Protection of Consumers Rights” in Połack and Połack district. But such a decision is accepted automatically. It makes the impression that Połack authorities want to hide mistakes in the organization of trade in the region.

The situation with the performance of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On Protection of Consumers Rights” in Połack and Połack district, reviewed at the session of the Council of Deputies, can be described as terrible. But at the moment the region does not have consumers protection society, and the executive authorities do not contribute to the registration of such public association.

Environmental issues are also hidden

“The principle of unnecessariness” of voters’ access to the City Council sessions is apply in respect of other active citizens who are directly interested in the issues that are being discussed by the deputies.

The representative of the environmental organization “Zialionaja Sietka” (“Green Network”) was denied presence at the session just when consideration of the ecological situation in the region of in Połack was taking place.

On this issue the member of “Zialionaja Sietka” expressed his opinion at the personal appointment at the Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection.

Violation of law

By banning voters to attend sessions during considerations of topical issues, authorities deprives the ability of to obtain the necessary information about the work of the deputies of their positions and activities, arguments and assumptions, methods and scope of the decisions taken.

The practice of closed work of deputies leads to violation of the Law “On information, informational support and information protection”, in particular Article 6, as quoted:

“Citizens of the Republic of Belarus are guaranteed the right to receive, store and disseminate complete, reliable and timely information about the activities of state bodies, public associations, political, economic, cultural, international issues, state of the environment, in the order established by this Law and other legislation acts of the Republic of Belarus.

The possibility and the right to appeal to the HRC

It is also stated in the law that “the law on information, information support and protection of information is based on the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus and consists of this Law, acts of the President of the Republic of Belarus, other acts of legislation of the Republic of Belarus”.

“If the international treaty of the Republic of Belarus establishes other rules than those provided in this Act, the rules of the international agreement are accepted”.

Closed work of the representative bodies in Połack and Połack region because of the position of the Chairman of the District Council deputy Jazep Hrybovič allows a voter to challenge such bans, including in the courts. In the absence of adequate protection in the national courts of the legitimate right of citizens to receive the necessary information about the work of Councils after the appeal procedure in cassational institution, the right to appeal to the UN Human Rights Committee for restoringthe right in accordance of Art. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) can be used.

• The right to freedom of expression includes, among other things, the right to freely receive all the necessary information for the proper functioning of society.

Bahdan Jurski for Prava-By.Info
Prepared by Ales LETA,
Belarusian Legal Portal

1) The session of the District Council of Deputies;
2) The session of the ideologues in the Executive Committee;
3) The chairman of the District Council of Deputies of Połack, Jazep Hrybovič.

Photo by A. Marcinkievič

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