Some clarifications of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee about the stage of the work of the "contact group" and what agenda the human rights activists are promoting.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee and the Belarusian Medical Solidarity Foundation appealed to the Red Cross organizations on the issue of discrimination by the Secretary General of the Belarusian Red Cross Society (BORC)
On October 18, 2022, the Secretary General of the Belarusian Red Cross Society (BORC), doctor Dzmitry Shautsou, spoke on the STV channel about gender identity and sexual orientation. His comment contained discriminatory and stigmatizing theses.
We start fighting official presidential decree 368 that is bringing surveillance to an unprecendented level, focusing on business and human rights
In addition, the imposition of such obligations on Belarusian companies in the ICT sector and online service providers means that all telecom operators and service providers, as well as owners of Internet resources, will be complicit in violating the rights of their customers if they comply with the Decree. That is, this decree is another situation where the state draws businesses into violation of human rights.
Information on the accessibility of COVID-19 vaccine in Belarus was sent to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
The report includes not only general information on equal and free-of-charge access to vaccination in Belarus but also data on forced vaccination in certain state institutions. It was highlighted in the report that free and equal access had been applicable only to certain vaccines, such as the Russian vaccine Sputnik V or Chinese Vero Cell. The report also informed about the state policy towards vaccination against COVID-19, such as the refusal to join the international initiative COVAX.
Submission to the UN Special Procedures in connection with human rights violations against the defendants in the Autukhovich case
We reported that the accused were being held in inhumane conditions, psychological and physical torture was applied to them, in particular, they were deprived of the opportunity to correspond and were not provided with the necessary medical care.
Submission to the UN Special Procedures in connection with the ongoing practice of recording and publishing penitential videos with the participation of teenagers
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has sent information to the UN Special Rapporteurs about another penitential video with the participation of a teenager, published on a channel close to the security forces. In the video, the teenager admitted that he took part in the 2020 protests, and also left negative comments about the war in Ukraine towards residents of the Russian Federation. In this way, according to the security forces, he "incited hatred on the Internet."
This means that now BHC, and through us other Belarusian civil society organizations that protect human rights, have an easier way of communicating with the UN.
Alternative reports on the implementation by the Republic of Belarus of SDG 16 and the 2030 Agenda as a whole
We decided to prepare an alternative report that would reflect the real picture in the country for all the targets of SDG 16.
Danilevich, Mochalov, Lazarenko, Braginets. We informed the Special Rapporteurs about numerous cases of prosecution of lawyers in Belarus.
These facts about detentions, arrests and administrative harassment of lawyers establish the continuation of the policy of repression against and intimidation of lawyers, who protect clients in politically motivated cases.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee is constantly communicating with the relevant UN Special Rapporteurs for the protection of Belarusian lawyers. On this page, we collect all information about the work done by human rights defenders in this regard.
In the message, we shared the details of Arciom Dubski's disappearance. On May 11, he was detained in Minsk and taken to the KGB for interrogation. On the night of May 12, Arciom was released from the KGB with the requirement to come back at 14:30 for "operational search activities". When Dubski returned to Osipovichi after the interrogation, a passenger car with three "masked men" followed him to his house. In the morning, a minibus joined the passenger car. On May 12, at 12 o'clock in the afternoon, Arciom went outside and did not return. Since then, Artem has not been in touch.
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee contacted the heads of Telegram, Apple, Google with a request to respond to the facts of violations of children's rights in the Belarusian segment of Telegram by channels affiliated with the state. We are talking about the practice of publishing “penitential” videos, the participants of which are children.
INFORMATION TO THE UN SPECIAL PROCEDURES ON AMENDMENTS TO CRIMINAL LEGISLATION EXPANDING THE SCOPE OF APPLICATION OF THE DEATH PENALTY
In the submission, we drew attention to the comment of the House of Representatives that the purpose of such amendments was “to have a deterrent effect on destructive elements, as well as to demonstrate the resolute struggle of the state against terrorist activities.” In this regard, we stressed that it was the inevitability, not the severity of punishment, that was a deterrent factor in committing a crime. The BHC also pointed out that there was no public discussion on this issue, while discussion of such complex and sensitive issues was extremely necessary.
We stressed that the exact legal basis of criminal charges against trade union activists was unknown, and that the search decree listed about 10 articles of the Criminal Code that had traditionally been used over the past two years to persecute civil society and political opposition. In addition, in the message we drew the attention of Special Rapporteurs to the fact that on April 7, the KGB recognized the Belarusian Trade Union of Radio-Electronic Industry Workers (REP) as an extremist formation.
The BHC sent a communication to the UN Special Procedures about the violation of the right of lawyers to freedom of expression
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has addressed the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression, on the independence of judges and lawyers and on the human rights situation in Belarus with information about violations of the right of lawyers in Belarus to freedom of expression. We reported on disciplinary proceedings initiated against lawyers for signing a petition against the participation of the Republic of Belarus in the armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine, specifying that three lawyers had already been reprimanded, and the other two were awaiting consideration.
Submission to the UN Special Procedures in connection with the violation by the Republic of Belarus of its obligations on the rights of the child
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee has sent information to the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture, on freedom of expression and opinion, on the right to health, on the right to privacy and on the human rights situation in Belarus on the practice of public arrests of teenagers and the publication of "penitential" videos with the participation of children. The submission described 3 cases of demonstrative detention of teenagers in front of their peers, and also gave examples of 6 "penitential" videos.
Referendum 2022: Analytical report of the expert mission on the evaluation of the constitutional referendum
Significant violations of the national legislation and fundamental principles of fair and democratic elections during the referendum, including depriving observers of the opportunity to monitor the counting of voting results, do not provide grounds to trust the election results announced by CEC and consider them reflecting the real will of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus.
On February 24, 2022, the military forces of the Russian Federation began an invasion of Ukraine. This is called by Russian Federation a “special operation”, but we must be blunt: a war has begun, and Russia is an aggressor country, while Belarus has been involved in this war as an aggressor’s ally.
The experts of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee reported on the case of Vladimir Matskevich to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, for freedom of expression and on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
INFORMATION ON VARIOUS FORMS OF VIOLENCE IN BELARUS WAS ADDRESSED TO THE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO THE ENJOYMENT OF THE HIGHEST ATTAINABLE STANDARD OF PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
Experts of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, in the response to the announced call for civil society organizations around the world, addressed information to the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for the preparation of the thematic report «Violence and its impact on the right to health» for the 50th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2022.
We have asked the Special Rapporteurs to contact the Belarusian Government to reconsider their decision to criminalize participation in non-registered or previously dismantled organizations, as well as not to apply article 193-1 in practice, as such action is a violation of international obligations of Belarus in the area of freedom of association.
Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to Pavel Durov, the CEO and Co-Founder Telegram, Sundar Pichai, the CEO Google and Alphabet, and Tim Cook, the CEO Apple Inc. We drew their attention to the facts of posting and disseminating through the Telegram resources of Belarusian segment some video and text materials, violating human rights and demonstrating violence and human dignity humiliation (including the right to privacy, prohibition of discrimination based on sexual orientation and political views, and radical forms of hate speech towards LGBTQ+ people).
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS SENT AN ALTERNATIVE REPORT ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN BELARUS TO THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
In addition to the long-standing problems in the realization of social and economic rights, such as forced labour, problems of access to adequate health care in places of deprivation of liberty, the report highlighted key developments of the past two years in terms of perspective of economic, social and cultural rights in Belarus.
In 2020, the National Human Rights Index was 3.1* out of 10. However, as frightening as 2020 compared to 2019 may seem, the estimate index score fell just 1.0 point. It means only one thing: all systemic human rights problems have been created earlier, but society was not ready to look out for them.
Joint statement of Belarusian human rights organizations on violations of freedom of association and pressure on human rights organizations
To date, we know about the forced liquidation of more than 250 civil society organizations. Among them there are numerous human rights organizations. Back in July 2021, the authorities ordered the closure of such human rights institutions as Human Constanta, Center for the Promotion of Women’s Rights “Her Rights”, Office for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Center for Legal Transformation, and TimeAct. On August 9, the Supreme Court ruled to liquidate the Belarusian PEN Center; on August 27, the Belarusian Association of Journalists; on August 30, Ecohome; on September 30, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee; and on October 5, Legal Initiative. On the same day, October 5, the Minsk City Court ruled to liquidate Zvyano. In addition, decisions were made to liquidate a number of other organizations whose activities are aimed at protecting the rights of vulnerable groups.
Amnesty International, FIDH, Frontline Defenders, Human Rights House Foundation, Human Rights Watch supporting the Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Major international human rights organizations issued the joint open letter to the Ministry of Justice to withdraw the lawsuit requesting the liquidation of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee so that «the organization can continue to carry out its important work, protecting human rights for everyone in Belarus».
Belarus: International human rights groups demand release of Viasna members on first anniversary of crackdown
The joint campaign #FreeViasna, demanding the immediate release of the Viasna seven, calls on the Belarusian authorities to: Fully abide by their international human rights obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to respect the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, and expression of all people in Belarus. Fully respect and protect the work of human rights defenders and ensure that everybody has the right to complain about the policies and actions of individual officials and government bodies and to offer and provide professionally qualified legal assistance or other relevant advice and assistance in defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. In line with these obligations, release Marfa Rabkova, Andrei Chepyuk, Tatsyana Lasitsa, Leanid Sudalenka, Ales Bialatski, Valiantsin Stefanovich, and Uladzimir Labkovich immediately and unconditionally, drop charges against them, Maryia Tarasenka, and other Viasna staff and volunteers, and ensure their right to a remedy for unlawful persecution.
Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections urge Georgian electoral authorities to reconsider decision to invite members of Belarusian CEC to observe local elections
Under such circumstances, inviting representatives of the CEC of Belarus and its chairperson Lidziya Yarmoshyna to participate in observing local elections in Georgia is unacceptable and, in fact, would be regarded as approval by Georgian institutions, primarily the CEC of Georgia, of the falsification of voting results in Belarusian elections, which directly involved the invited Belarusian officials.
The Supreme Court will held a preliminary hearing on the claim to liquidation of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee
The decision of the Supreme Court on the liquidation of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee could violate the right to protection of persons involved in criminal proceedings.
We find the court's decision to be clearly unjust. It is aimed at creating the conditions necessary to carry out the liquidation of an organization that has been protecting human rights in Belarus for over 25 years. In our opinion, if the Supreme Court has accepted the position of the Ministry of Justice in such an unambiguous situation, it becomes quite obvious that the court was guided not by legal approaches, but by political expediency.
Since then, almost a year has passed. Today we appealed to the House of Representatives and the General Prosecutor's Office. The BHC wants to know about the the results of the Commission’s work.
Detention conditions in Akrestsin Centre and TDC. Part 4. Brest Detention Center accepts parcels in normal mode
The review of the appeal found that the measures introduced by the facility have been temporary and the Brest Temporary Detention Center currently accepts parcels in a normal mode. What a nice coincidence!
The Belarusian Helsinki Committee appealed to the General Prosecutor's Office. In their appeal, human rights defenders claim that “the Minsk City Prosecutor's Office is evading the main obligations that the state entrusted it to perform, namely ensuring the rule of law, legality and order, protecting the rights and legitimate interests of citizens and organizations, as well as public and state interests.”
We maintain the position that all possible legal means should be used to preserve the legal status of the Committee. We hope that the Ministry will listen to our arguments. Otherwise, we will appeal the warning to the Supreme Court.
Most of the organizations had partnerships with both government agencies and international institutions. Many organizations have worked within the framework of sustainable development programs at the national and local levels, made significant contributions to the development of Belarusian society, provided legal and other assistance to people, helped the state highlight the problems of vulnerable groups and solve them.
The position of human rights defenders in this regard can be briefly stated as “respect your own laws” and “remember your international responsibilities”.
By 16 July, the Ministry of Justice wants to receive documents on 30 points covering the period from 1 January, 2018 to July, 2021. Among other things, this list includes the organization’s correspondence, annual management plans, minutes of all sittings of the BHC elected bodies, and documents related to the events held within Belarus and abroad.