2016 15/06

Previously we have written about the non-conformity of the Belarusian Law “On Mass Events” with the international standards of freedom of movements. But the process of their implementation in a broad sense is a main theme for a big research.

In connection with this we would like to describe here only one form of the possible influence, which is the method of control over mass events.

RHRPA “Belarusian Helsinki Committee” and the Human Rights Center “Viasna” for several years have been carrying out a systematic monitoring of public events in Minsk on the basis of the developed methodology for monitoring, which includes the recruitment and training of observers of:

  • principles of public observation,
  • standards of peaceful assembly and monitoring methodology;
  • filling questionnaires during direct monitoring control;
  • processing of forms and writing monitoring reports.


What for

Public control is itself a good method of changing legal reality, because, on the one hand, it is aimed to control the sphere of realization of human rights, and on the other – has a broad educational and educational character for all the actors. You can read about it a bit in the author’s blog using this link.

Implementation of the monitoring of public events, as well as any other kind of public control, includes several important functions:


1. The presence of observers – the preventive function of violations of standards of peaceful assembly by the parties during public events;

2. Monitoring – the collection of factual information during the realization of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Belarus;

3. Mediation in conflict situations.


What is special about this status

To carry out observations one does not need any special permission. Any person can be an observer and collect the monitoring information, he/she has a similar status to human rights defender, as “OSCE Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly” describe it.


The rules for observers

Anyone can be an observer, but only after the appropriate training and, most significant, if one knows to the principles of observation and is guided by them. And they are:

  • independence and political neutrality;
  • description of facts, not giving opinions;
  • non-interference in the event, which is being watched;
  • commitment to the principles of law: the rejection of all forms of violence and discriminatory practices;
  • correct behavior.

According to our approach, observers are “the third” neutral party between the participants and representatives of law enforcement bodies, they do not take sides, but objectively observe. The role of law enforcement officers during mass events are well described in the following article.


Practical effect

Over the years of observation of peaceful assembly, we periodically see the changes in the practice of their implementation. After every big action a report is written as a result of observations. Here is an example of the material at the Belarusian Legal Portal for action “Charnobyl Way – 2016” – the report from our observation.

For us, each case is an occasion to bring the discrepancy of the legislation and its practice to international standards. It is also important to develop specific recommendations, which sometimes even are executed. At least militia officers sometimes demonstrate their erudition. Because of the presence of observers, several arbitrary detentions have failed, sometimes the information group of police officers appered, etc.


How to become an observer

Everybody can observe independantly. But to join the team of observers, we suggest to pass a special video course. And more materials on the topic can be found by the link: http://humane.by/civilcontrol3.




Nasta Lojka,
Lawyer of the HRC “Viasna”, specially for
Belarusian Legal Portal

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