Human rights defenders

The working environment for human rights defenders in Belarus remains extremely difficult. The civil rights situation deteriorated after the 19 December 2010 presidential elections. Many human rights organisations continue to be denied legal status, with searches and confiscations conducted by the police. Peaceful assemblies are usually banned. These factors consequently lead to the arrest, judicial harassment and sometimes imprisonment of human rights defenders. Ales Bialiatski, President of HRC Viasna, is currently serving a four and a half year sentence since August 2011, in the severe conditions of a working detention camp.

Please see the below articles on the situation of human rights defenders in Belarus:

The Observatory: Confirmation in appeal of the ban of a book written by Ales Bialiatski

Observatory Human Rights Defenders
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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.

New information :

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the confirmation in appeal of the ban of a book written by Mr. Ales Bialiatski, President of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Viasna” and FIDH Vice-President, who is serving 4,5 years’ imprisonment in relation to his human rights activities...

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“Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” presented the resulats of local councils elections

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The election observation campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” have summed up the results of this year’s local councils elections.

According to the deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich, the local elections have demonstrated long-standing problems of legislation, as recommendations of both Belarusian and foreign observers continue to be ignored by the CEC and election commissions.

The campaign “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” involved 30 long-term and 220 short-term observers, who worked at 180 polling stations across Belarus.

The stage of formation of election commissions was marked by a selective approach, when the list of election commissioners was often approved without any discussion...

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Obervatory : Continued harassment of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna”

Observatory Human Rights Defenders

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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed of the continued harassment of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” and the rejection by the Court of a complaint challenging the blackmailing of its website www.spring96.org.

According to the information received, on February 18, 2014, the Central District Court of Minsk considered a complaint filed by Mr. Valiantsin Stefanovich, Deputy Chairman of “Viasna”, challenging the decision by the Prosecutor General’s Office to restrict access to “Viasna”’s ...

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Viasna fails to protect its website in court

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On February 18 Judge of the Tsentralny District Court of Minsk considered 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 blacklist the spring96.org website as a resource with restricted access.

At the beginning of the trial, Valiantsin Stefanovich requested to allow chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Aleh Hulak contribute to proceedings. He also asked to announce the decision of the Prosecutor General, on the basis of which the spring96.org website was blacklisted...

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Freedom of association in 2013: number of registered NGOs is lowest since 2005

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The Ministry of Justice has summed up the results of the past year’s registration of public associations and foundations. In 2013, 70 new associations were registered (2 international, 11 national and 57 local ones), one association of NGOs, 11 foundations (1 international and 10 local). According to experts of the NGO’s Assembly and the Legal Transformation Center, the number of new NGOs in 2013 is significantly lower than in 2011 and 2012, when during the year the registration was obtained by over a hundred associations and more than 20 foundations. However, the year of 2013 saw the same trend of registering sports associations – they constitute more than half of new NGOs.

As of January 1, 2014 Belarus has 15 registered political parties and 1,057 party branches, 37 trade unions (33...

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Yearly Report of «Platform Innovation» seized on the border

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The yearly report of “Platform Innovation” was seized on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border and sent to an expert examination to reveal if it contains extremist or libel contents.

On the evening February 13, customs officers of Kamenny Loh border point searched the car of Andrei Bandarenka, head of “Platform Innovation”. Several copies of the yearly report were found and seized for examining. Andrei Bandarenka underlined that the report had been published on the official website of the organization, and caused no objections from the authorities.

Also earlier this year the court of Ashmiany decreed that the book by Ales Bialiatski “Asvechanyja Belaruschynaj” (“Enlightened by the Belarusian Issue”), seized by the customs office, should be banned in Belarus because it contains facts dis...

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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...

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Judge bans the book by Ales Bialiatski from Belarus

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On February 11, the Ashmiany District Court announced its verdict on the civil lawsuit of the member of the HRC “Viasna” Tatsiana Reviaka against Ashmiany customs. The human rights defender filed a lawsuit against the ban on the import to the territory of Belarus of the book “Enlightened by the Belarusian Issue”, authored by Ales Bialiatski. Following two “expert examinations” the customs officers demanded that Tatsiana Reviaka re-export the forty copies of the book, seized from her at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, to the territory of Lithuania, where the book was published.

After the parties were heard by the judge and the written materials of the case were studied, the court dismissed T. Reviaka’s appeal.

As stated by the human rights activist, she didn’t find anything in...

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“Relevant authorities” to decide on Ales Bialiatski’s book

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On January 29, the Court of Ashmiany District held a preliminary hearing in the civil case against human rights defender Tatsiana Reviaka’s lawsuit against local customs officials, who prohibited the importation of Ales Bialiatski’s book “Asvechanyia Belaruschunai” (“Enlightened by Belarusianness”).

As reported by Tatsiana Reviaka, at today’s meeting, they requested access to certain documents, in particular the results of a re-examination of the edition, since it became the basis for Ashmiany customs’ decision to order re-export of the book to Lithuania.

The first expert examination was criticized by the human rights defenders in their repeated complaints submitted to the customs authorities...

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Vitsebsk human rights activist Piatro Ivanou threatened to be deported

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Vitsebsk human rights activist and military pensioner Piatro Ivanou is threatened with being deported to Russia and demanded to submit an income statement. The department on citizenship and migration of Vitsebsk’s Kastrychnitski police department demands that the human rights activist Piotr Ivanou (in the picture) reported about the living expenses before 20 January. Otherwise they promise to deport him to Russia.

Mr. Ivanou was born in Belarus, but worked in Russia and received the citizenship. It is pointed out that the human rights activist was a career soldier and his permanent income is the pension. Ivanou repeatedly emphasized this fact during court proceedings, apart from that he is able to confirm his pension incomes with documents.

The human rights activist claimed that law enfo...

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