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».
The joint open letter was signed by Marie Struthers, Director of Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office Amnesty International; signed the letter; Alice Mogwe, President of International Federation for Human Rights; Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Frontline Defenders; Maria Dahle, Director of Human Rights House Foundation; Hugh Williamson, Director of Europe and Central Asia Division Human Rights Watch.
We recall that the Ministry of Justice initially issued a warning to the Belarusian Helsinki Committee for failure to submit the documents that were in the office that had been sealed after the search. Then, the Ministry of Justice filed a statement of claim requesting the liquidation of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.
According to the statement of claim, the Ministry of Justice, as a result of investigative actions in an unnamed criminal case, received copies of documents which, in the opinion of the Ministry, indicate that the BHC provided incorrect information in its annual report. These documents have not yet been evaluated as part of any criminal proceedings by the court, but the Ministry, requests to liquid the organization on the basis of the documents copies. The Supreme Court hearing is set for September, 30 at 11:00 A.M.
Some quotations from the international human rights organizations joint open letter:
- “we have known and worked with BHC for most of the organization’s 26 years of existence. We have the highest regard for the BHC’s dedication to defending human rights, for its methodology and integrity”;
- “ what is happening here is an attempt to impose a draconianly punitive and irreversible penalty to bring about the elimination of a long-standing body of human rights defenders”,
- “pursuing such reprisals runs contrary to the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. It also violates Belarus’ obligations on freedom of expression and association under arts. 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Belarus is party”.
Volunteers of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee took part in election monitoring campaigns, defended the rights of lawyers, defended pension rights of Belarusians from abuses of a “qualifying period”, worked to abolish forced labor (decrees "on social parasites" and "woodworking", “mandatory assignment”), proposed the solutions aimed at improving the legislation (for instance, as a result of our involvement, the right of witnesses to legal counsel was established), used international human rights mechanisms to defend human rights, promoted the Sustainable Development Goals, and much more.