Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders demands to release Andrei Bondarenko

Observatory Human Rights Defenders

Urgent appeal- The Observatory : Detention in Belarus

Paris-Geneva, November 15, 2013

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory was informed of the arrest and sentencing of Mr. Andrei Bondarenko to five days of imprisonment. Mr. Bondarenko is the Director of the human rights organisation “Platforma”, which monitors conditions of detention in Belarus.

According to the information received, on November 14, 2013, Mr. Bondarenko was charged by the Minsk Moscow District Court under Part 1 of Article 23.34 of the Administrative Code (“organising and carrying out unauthorised activities”) and sentenced to five days of detention. He was appearing as a witness before the court on that day, on the basis of a subpoena related to a judicial case about a peaceful gathering which had happened two months before.

Indeed, on September 14, 2013, 18 persons, including Mr. Bondarenko, were arrested while they were holding a peaceful demonstration in front of pre-trial detention facility n°1 on Volodarsky street in Minsk. They were celebrating the memory of 21 year-old detainee Igor Ptichkin, who died in this pretrial detention facility under suspicious circumstances on August 4, 2013. Reportedly, the young man was beaten and looked like a old man only after a few days spent in detention.

The Observatory expresses its concern about the arrest and detention of Mr. Bondarenko, and considers it as a means to sanction his human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Belarusian authorities, urging them to :

i. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at the judicial and administrative levels – against Mr. Bondareko, as well as against all other human rights defenders in Belarus;

ii. Release Mr. Bondarenko immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”.
- and its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration” ;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Belarusian Republic.

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