Human rights defenders remind MFA about implementation of international treaties by state administrations


Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich addressed on May 17 the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Uladzimir Makei an appeal in connection with the failure of the Belarusian government to implement the Decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Ales Bialiatski’s case.

The appeal is accompanied with an open letter by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders with a request to implement the decision of the Working Group.

In its decision of August 31, 2012, the Working Group recognized that the deprivation of liberty imposed on the head of the HRC “Viasna” and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights Ales Bialiatski was arbitrary, and stressed that “an adequate remedy is to release Mr. Bialiatski and to accord him an enforceable right to compensation pursuant to Article 9, paragraph 5 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).”

However, the Belarusian side refuses to comply with the decision of the influential international organization, saying instead that it saw no sense in collaboration with the Working Group and accused it of political bias. “Belarus has always pursued constructive goals in its cooperation with the thematic procedures of the [Human Rights] Council, providing them with all the requested information. However, in such circumstances, taking into account the extreme political bias of the Working Group and the lack of professional ethics in its activities, Belarus sees no reason for further cooperation with the Working Group in its present form,” said the official delegation of the Republic of Belarus in its speech during the 22th session of the UN Human Rights Council, which took place in March.

The Belarusian delegation called the requirement of the Working Group to correct Bialiatski’s condition and to bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ICCPR as “interference in the internal affairs of the state.” “We regard the opinion of the Working Group on Bialiatski’s case as an attempt to justify the criminal through labeling him as a human rights defender, the interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state,” said the Belarus spokesperson.

Taking into account these statements, Valiantsin Stefanovic, following the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, in his address to the Foreign Minister reminds that the UN Special Procedures (including the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention) are subsidiary bodies of the UN. “They were set up by and report back to the UN HRC. The members of the WGAD are selected by a Consultative Group appointed by the UN HRC, on the basis of their “expertise and experience in the area of the mandate, integrity, independence and impartiality. Their “legal opinions, such as the above-mentioned decision on Mr. Ales Bialiatski, are UN decisions. The Republic of Belarus as a UN Member State has an obligation to cooperate with all UN bodies and mechanisms (as provided for in Article 56 of the UN Charter), and it is also bound by treaties, in particular the ICCPR, which Belarus ratified in 1973,” says the human rights defender.

In addition, the human rights defender, referring to Par. 5.11 of Regulations No. 978 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approved by the Council of Ministers on 31.07.2006, points out that the tasks of the Ministry include “monitoring the implementation of international treaties of the Republic of Belarus by the state bodies of the Republic of Belarus and assisting in the implementation of international treaties of the Republic of Belarus.”

In this regard, Valiantsin Stefanovich urges the Minister for Foreign Affairs to monitor the implementation of decisions of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on the case of Ales Bialiatski, to take measures to promote compliance by the public authorities of the Republic of Belarus with the decision and to report on actions taken in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Belarus.

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