23 February 2019, Saturday, 12:49
Appeal of the BPR Rada

Homel Activists Reach UN


Nobody heard them inside the country.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) accepted complaints of Homel activists of the spring protest actions of 2017 Natallia Shchukina and Ala Ramanchyk, Homel's Viasna writes.

In the complaints to the UN Committee on Human Rights, women informed how on March 12, 2017 they took part in the protest rally of the "non-parasites" in Rahachou, for which the authorities subsequently prosecuted them with large administrative fines exceeding their pensions. On Freedom Day, March 25, they led a column of protesters "non-parasites" in Homel. After the end of the action, they were detained and placed in the detention center, where they were held for 44 hours before the trial. The Savetski district court of Homel fined both activists for large sums, and the issue of their being in the detention center for almost two days remained unsloved.

Human rights activist Leanid Sudalenka, who helps women defend their rights at the international level, stressed that the police officers clearly exceeded their authority by placing women to the detention center before the trial. This was aclear violation of the right to freedom and personal inviolability.

- The general rule is that a personshould be at large before the trial. After establishing the identity, the police made sure that the activists have a permanent place of residence, are pensioners, why, if not for humiliation, it was necessary to keep them in the detention center? This vicious practice, when activists are detained on suspicion, for example, on Friday and are held in the detention center till the trial on Monday, and the court then fines them, needs to be changed. In addition, in complaints to the UN Committee on Human Rights we raised questions about the violation of women's rights to peaceful assembly and, as a consequence, to express their opinions," added Sudalenka.

According to the expert, after registering a complaint with the UN Committee on Human Rights, communication begins with the government, which is granted half a year (180 days) to comment on its merits. The government’s comment is sent to the author of the complaint for an answer, after which the case is ready for consideration.

At present, the period for considering complaints is two to four years. In case of violations, the UN Human Rights Committee recommends that the government should compensate the victim for violations of the costs incurred and fair compensation. Also, the government is recommended to change both the national law that led to the violation, and the practice of its application, so that in the future such violations are not repeated. The government is obliged to publish in the official media the decision taken in the case and to notify the UN HRC within 180 days of the measures taken.

It should be noted that in 2016 the Belarusian government adopted a "national plan on human rights", one of the points of which is an analysis of the claims of Belarusian citizens addressed to the UN Committee on Human Rights. How this analysis is conducted and how the government studies the claims of its citizens at the international level is not known to the public. It is known that the government persistently refuses to carry out the decisions taken in Geneva in favor of the Belarusian citizens, calling them "recommendations."

According to Leanid Sudalenka, as of today, 281 complaints from Belarus have been registered in the UN Committee on Human Rights, half of which have already been considered and sent to Minsk for execution.