Open letter to the UN Human Rights Committee by Natalia Pinchuk and Antoine Bernard

Antoine Bernard, Chief Executive Officer of FIDH, and Natalia Pinchuk, Ales Bialiatski’s wife, the authors of an individual submission made two years ago on behalf of Ales Bialiatski, President of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” in Belarus and Vice-President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), have submitted an open letter to the UN Human Rights Committee requesting the Committee to give urgent priority to examining this complaint.

Valentin Stefanovich, Vice-President of HRC “Viasna”, commented that “The submission on behalf of Ales Bialiatski regarding his wrongful imprisonment resulting from a violation of his rights was submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee on 12 April 2012. This submission stated that Mr. Bialiatski’s rights of freedom of association, liberty and security of person and his right to a fair trial (on the basis of articles 9, 14, and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) were violated by the state’s rejection of “Viasna’s” registration application in 2007 and 2009, warnings from the prosecutor’s office that no actions could be taken on behalf of an unregistered organization, and, finally, Mr. Bialiatski’s criminal prosecution and sentencing in 2011.

According to the procedures established for review of a case by the Committee, the State Party must submit a response containing its arguments regarding the given submission. But in July 2012, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Belarus to the United Nations Office in Geneva sent a note to the HRC stating unequivocally that it would not cooperate with the Committee on this matter and that it would suspend all further communications in this regard. Since this time, Belarus has maintained its position and has not submitted any communications in this matter, even though the HRC has already sent Belarus two reminders regarding observations on the merits of the matter.

Over recent years, the Republic of Belarus has maintained the same position in other matters that are being examined by the Human Rights Committee. Hence, there is no reason to believe that Belarus will provide a response in the matter of Mr. Bialiatski, so the HRC should not postpone its examination of this matter. The fact that Belarus has refused further communications with the Committee does not prevent the complaint from being examined, and Mr. Bialiatski’s representatives have filed a request with the Committee to accelerate this process.

Mr. Bialiatski has been held in difficult conditions at a correctional facility for almost three years. Opportunities for his legal defense within the state have been exhausted and an extensive international campaign for his release has not brought about a change in his situation. Any decision issued by the Human Rights Committee, whose competence Belarus has recognized under an international agreement, must examine this matter from the standpoint of international law. Should the Committee find that Belarus has violated Mr. Bialiatski’s rights, Belarus has the legal obligation to eliminate this violation pursuant to Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Open Letter to UN Human Rights Committee by Freeales

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