Analytical Review No.3-1 “Realization of the right to protection and freedom of the legal profession in the light of the events in the Republic of Belarus during December 2010 – January 2011”
The facts of the pressure on the bar lawyers and of hampering their professional activities raise question on the observance of the right to a fair trial in the Republic of Belarus.
International Observation Mission has prepared an analytical review of the realization of the right to defense and freedom of the legal profession in the light of the events that happened from December 2010 through January 2011 (as of January 20, 2011) in the Republic of Belarus.
This overview was based on the information that had been collected from open sources, particularly mass media, official web sites of government structures and the statements of different public organizations including the international NGOs.
This document reflects various aspects of regarding freedom of legal activities of bar lawyers in connection to a number of actions by the Ministry of Justice of Belarus aimed at those attorneys that represent politicians and public figures charged with organizing mass riots in the context of the events on December 19, 2010. This analytical review compiles the information related to the legal outcomes of the actions taken by the Ministry of Justice with respect to the Belarus Helsinki Committee (BHC) in response to their appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on independence of Judges and Lawyers.
Mission notes that the Belarusian bar lawyers still do not have an opportunity to meet and communicate with their clients freely, especially with the clients that are kept in the KGB jail. The Government authorities have not taken adequate measures to ensure the free exercise of attorney’s professional activities. The actions of the Government can be described as violating the guarantees of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Republic of Belarus regarding unobstructed private and confidential communication with one’s client with no limitations on the number or duration of the meetings (Article 48 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Republic of Belarus).They can also be described as violating the international obligations of the state that ensure the right to protection and independence of the legal profession, including paragraph 3 of the article 14 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights, “Standards for the Independence of Legal profession” and a number of other documents.
Mission also notes that in the current state of affairs the Government of the Republic of Belarus is obliged to provide the suspects with procedural safeguards, as well as satisfy the public interest in the conditions of detention of those charged for the events of December 19 by giving an access to them to the international observers, who could in turn assess the level of humane treatment of the detainees and the level of respect for their human dignity.
The analytical review also contains recommendations developed by the Mission for the Government of the Republic of Belarus, professional bar associations, international organizations and intergovernmental entities.
The analytical review is directed to the:
Missions of the European Union and the European Commission and the representatives of the Government of Lithuania that is currently the chairman of OSCE.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.
Professional bar associations in the OSCE countries.
International organizations, working in the field of human rights, as well national human right institutions.
January 29, 2011