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Belarusian Foreign Ministry doesn’t understand English?

Belarusian Foreign Ministry doesn’t understand English?
Mikalai Statkevich
Photo: AFP

The authorities are deliberately putting off consideration of the complaint at the UN Human Rights Committee filed on the behalf of a political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich.

At the moment the UN Human Rights Committee is in the process of reviewing an individual petition on behalf of the prisoner of conscience, the Belarusian political prisoner, a former presidential candidate in Belarus Mikalai Statkevich.

It is told by the head of the Belarusian Documentary Centre Raisa Mikhajlouskaya:

- We have already informed the public that the complaint of behalf of Mikalai Statkevich had been filed in November 2013. Experts of the BDC had been preparing it together with our US partners – a non-governmental organisation Free Now and a lawyer bureau Hogan Lovells. The process of considering complaints at the Human Rights Committee is a rather long and labour-intensive one. In the course of communications arguments of all sides are to be put together. Only after that the Committee is to consider the communication and pronounce a decision.

The complaint of Mikalai Statkevich to the Human Rights Committee was registered with the number 2616/2015. It was found valid for consideration. At the moment a usual process of collection of the sides’ arguments is under way. At appropriate time we sent additional information, which had been required by experts of the UN Human Rights Committee.

At the moment, as they say, the ball is in the court of the state. Exactly now the Committee has sent a complaint against violation of the rights of Mikalai Statkevich to them, and the state is to give their substantiated answer regarding that. No wonder, however, that at this stage the Committee has received the following answer:

The side of the state does not consider messages of individuals in English.

I do not think that our Foreign Ministry lacks skilled professionals, who speak and read English, that they do not have professional translators on the staff. English, as well as Russian, are the working languages of the UN HRC. And the Republic of Belarus, as a member of the UN, definitely knows that.

What we have now is another attempt to put off and hinder the process of communication and consideration of the petition in the Human Rights Committee.

I want to observe that one more complaint prepared by our lawyers is in the process of active communications now, the complaint of a human rights watchdog Aleh Vouchak (Oleg Volchek). We observe the same situation with it – the state claims it has nothing to do with the human rights violations. The UN Human Rights Committee is to make a conclusion in this case soon.

We remind that Mikalai Statkevich is the only candidate for presidency in Belarus in the election of 2010, who is still kept behind the bars. In May 2011 he was sentenced to 6 years of deprivation of liberty on charges relating organizing mass riots on the day of the presidential elections. International human rights organisations have recognized Statkevich a political prisoner.

First the politician served the term in the penal colony №17 in Shklou, however in January 2012 conditions were harshened for him, and he was transferred to Mahilyou prison №4 for 3 years. After this term expired, on January 12, 2015 Statkevich was returned to Shklou colony, where in the first two days two reports were drawn up against him for violation of the internal regulations. Now the politician is facing a new prison term.

On May 4 at the session of the court in Shklou penal colony №17, where Mikalai Statkevich was kept, it was decided to transfer him to a prison regime until the end of the term of punishment (1 year 7 months 15 days). On May 5 the politician was transferred to the prison №4 in Mahilyou.

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