The Belarusian Helsinki Committee informed the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus about numerous cases of prosecution of lawyers in Belarus.
In particular, the UN special procedures were informed about the detention of Alexander Danilevich, who was arrested on May 20 and is still in detention.
It was revealed that he is charged pursuant art. 361 para. 3 of the Criminal Code (calls for restrictive measures (sanctions) or other actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus). He is at risk of being sentenced to imprisonment for a term of four to twelve years. We have a reason to believe, and that was indicated, that A. Danilevich is being prosecuted for publicly expressing his opinion. Alexander Danilevich, PhD in law, associate professor, distinguished sports lawyer, arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Lausanne, Switzerland), was a member of the disciplinary committee of Rugby Europe.
We further informed the Special Rapporteurs of the Andrei Mochalov’s case.
Lawyer Andrei Mochalov (A.Machalau) was dismissed from the Minsk Regional Bar Association on May 31, but he didn’t participate in the meeting of the Bar Council, so he found out about the decision only at the trial.
The cause of dismissal was his media report that his client, Olga Zolotar, has been tortured by GUBOPiK officers during the investigation in order to force her to incriminate herself. Mochalov was charged of using knowingly forged documents (art. 380 para. 1 of the Criminal Code) - lawyer's certificate and warrant. According to the investigation, he had no right to present these documents in court, because he knew that he had already been dismissed from the Bar Association. On June 16, Andrei Mochalov was sentenced to two years’ of imprisonment with placement in an open institution.
The communication also contains information about the persecution of lawyer Vitaliy Braginets. On May 23, lawyer V. Bragints was detained and on the next day was sentenced to 15 days for disobeying the lawful request of a police officer (art. 24.3 of the Code of the Republic of Belarus on Administrative Offenses). On June 7, after 15 days, it became known that the lawyer was still not released, and his arrest was extended for another 15 days. Until now, he is in custody.
Lawyer Anastasiya Lazarenko was also detained on June, 3. The lawyer was detained "for leaking personal data of police officers." A criminal case has been opened against her for inciting racial, national, religious or other social enmity or discord (art. 130 para. 3 of the Criminal Code). The maximum penalty in this case provides a term from five to twelve years in prison.
Also informed about the detention of five lawyers of the legal consultation of the Smolevichi district of the Minsk region by KGB officers. It became known on June 14.
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. Such actions constitute a violation of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, 27 August-7 September 1990. According to para. 16 of the Basic Principles, Governments shall ensure the lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference and shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.
In this regard, we kindly asked the Special Rapporteurs to contact the Government of the Republic of Belarus and appeal them to stop the practice of arbitrarily punishing lawyers, as well as to guarantee the free performance of their professional duties and independence of the bar and the legal profession.