Court of Minsk to hear complaint against blacklisting HRC Viasna Web site

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The Court of Minsk’s Tsentralny district will consider tomorrow morning a complaint filed by deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich to challenge a decision of the Prosecutor General’s Office to restrict access to the website spring96.org.

Valiantsin Stefanovich received a reply to his appeal to the Prosecutor General of Belarus dated December 10, 2013, which dealt with blacklisting www.spring96.org site. In particular, the response states that actions on behalf of the human rights organization “Viasna” that has not passed the established procedures of state registration are contrary to the law of the Republic of Belarus. In addition, Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code provides for criminal liability for organizing or participating in the activities of political parties, other public associations, religious organizations or foundations that have not received state registration in the prescribed manner.

The General Prosecutor’s Office further argues that, “due to the fact that the internet resource www.spring96.org has for a long time posted information that promotes acts prohibited by law, the General Prosecutor’s Office in August 2011 ordered to add the identifier for this internet resource to the list of restricted access, which was forwarded to RUE “BelGIE” for execution.”

Valiantsin Stefanovich stresses that according to Art. 23 of the Constitution, restricting the rights and freedoms of individuals is allowed only in cases prescribed by law, for the sake of national security, public order, morality, health, rights and freedoms of others, and therefore asks the court to find the decision of the General Prosecutor’s Office illegal, as it violates the rights of citizens, and to oblige the authority to correct the violations.

Viasna’s deputy chairman previously petitioned the Operative Analytical Center, who approved the decision to restrict access to the website, and BelGIE, which is in charge of compiling the lists of restricted access. However, the human rights defender could not find out who had initiated the blacklisting of Viasna Web site spring96.org.

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