Statement #1 of the long-term International Monitoring Mission
December 30th, 2010
Acting on behalf of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus, which unites representatives of human rights organizations from the OSCE countries together with international non-governmental organizations,
monitoring the overall situation with the observance of fundamental human rights in the Republic of Belarus, as well as the issues of defending human rights defenders and ensuring their professional activities;
emphasizing that human rights are subject to the direct and legitimate concern of the international civil society;
urging the government of the Republic of Belarus to follow the international obligations undertaken in the field of human rights, and urging the OSCE member states to control the fulfillment of these obligations according to the OSCE principles;
Reviewing the first two days of its activity, the International Observation Mission is expressing its concern over the following issues:
According to the information received from the Belarusian and international human rights organizations as well as the Internet mass-media, there are problems with providing medical care for the detainees, particularly Andrey Sannikov, Vladimir Neklyaev, Nataliya Radina and others. We would like to remind that if these facts are true, then according to the international standards, they can be estimated as torture or cruel and inhuman treatment.
The Mission urges the Government of Belarus to either acknowledge these facts or officially deny them and in any case provide the detainees and those who are arrested with immediate and proper medical care.
The Mission has noticed several facts of persecution of human rights defenders and putting barriers for their activity. On December 29th, a well-known Belarusian human rights defender Elena Tonkacheva was called into KGB office in Minsk for the “conversation”, after which she has signed an obligation not to disclose any information regarding the meeting. After the interrogation, Tonkacheva’s apartment was searched. During the search, the documents and materials, directly related to her professional human rights activities, were confiscated. The Mission believes that under current conditions, the government of Belarus should not only build no barriers to the human rights activists’ and organizations’ work, but strongly support their activity, according to the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as the OSCE obligations stated in the fundamental documents of the Organization and confirmed at the Leaders’ Summit that took place in Astana on December 1st and 2nd, 2010.
In connection with the document issued by the Ministry of Justice to the Minsk City Bar Association (http://www.minjust.by/ru/site_menu/news?id=734), where the Ministry requests to take some disciplinary measures against a number of lawyers that have defended political activists and public leaders, the Mission is convinced that this kind of pressure can endanger professional activity of the independent legal attorneys.
Legal attorneys who defend citizens and their guaranteed rights and freedoms, according to the international standards (primarily embodied in the UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and confirmed by the OSCE documents) are equated with human rights activists and are to be particularly protected.
That is why the Mission is going to give special attention to guaranteeing that lawyers have fully fledged professional activities. We believe that any pressure on the lawyers may put the access of their clients to effective legal assistance under threat and can obstruct the administration of justice, which, as the Government of Belarus has stated, is something they seek.
The Mission urges the Government of the Republic of Belarus to act in accordance with the undertaken international obligations and prevent any violations of human rights and pressure on human rights activists as well as anyone else who carries out human rights protection.
the first Head of the Mission
on behalf of the Committee on International Control
over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus