In its intervention on 5 March 2013 at the Human Rights Council, the Human Rights House Foundation called upon Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Bialiatski, drop all charges against him and fully rehabilitate him. Pending his release Ales Bialiatski should be provided access to all medical support he needs and his prison conditions should not impact on his health.

The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) welcomed the report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, including the opinion adopted in August 2012 on the case of Ales Bialiatski.

In August 2011, Ales Bialiatski was arrested and charged with “concealment of profits on an especially large scale” under Article 243, part 2, of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus. On November 24, after almost four months of pre-trial detention, the Minsk Pershamayski District Court sentenced him to four and a half years of imprisonment under strict regime conditions, confiscation of property – including the premises used for his organisation, the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” – and to a fine of 757’526’717 Belarusian Roubles (approximately 70’000 Euros). On 24 January 2012, the Minsk City Court confirmed the sentence on appeal, after all the motions filed by Ales Bialiatski’s lawyers were rejected. On 29 March 2012, the same court issued a new decision, ordering him to pay an extra amount of 140’366’151 Belarusian Roubles (nearly 12’700 Euros) in penalty in addition to the previous fine, which had already been paid in January 2012, due to alleged late payment of arrears.

Contrary to what is stated by the Permanent mission of Belarus in its note verbale of 3 December 2012 the offenses committed by Ales Bialiatski are a direct consequence of the denial of registration of “Viasna”, in direct violation of views expressed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. “The Working Group also emphasize[d] that criminal liability cannot be based on prior government action to deregister and dissolve the non-governmental organization Viasna, in violation of article 20, paragraph 1, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

By now, Ales Bialiatski has been in prison for a year and a half. He celebrated his 50th anniversary behind bars. Yesterday, on March 6, a book by Ales Bialiatski was presented at the office of the BNF party. The book comprises articles, essays, literary criticism, memoirs about famous Belarusian writers. All of the texts have been written by Ales Bialiatski since the end of 1980s, the latest texts appeared already in prison.

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