Due to the adoption by the illegitimate authorities of the Republic of Belarus of several legislative acts, which violate human rights and aggravate the situation of Belarusian citizens, the human rights coalition and civil society of Belarus adopted a Statement, the text of which we publish herewith.

On April 27, during the eighth session of the House of Representatives, several bills were passed on second reading.

The first bill relates to amending the laws on the activities of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In particular, it says about a significant expansion of the authority of the Interior Ministry troops, namely the use of military weapons by soldiers.

Also, in two readings, a draft law on “amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus” was passed. The draft law provides for imposing an exceptional punishment in the form of the death penalty for attempts to commit acts of terrorism.

In a situation of legal collapse in August 2020 and a steadily increasing level of repression, a growing number of political prisoners and acts of open terror by the security services of Belarus, it is impossible to talk about the legal need to increase the powers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The only justification for such governmental initiatives is an attempt to expand the practices of suppression and intimidation of the country’s population, including further attacks on basic human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 10, 1948, adopted by the UN General Assembly.

In particular: violation of Article 3 of the aforementioned document, guaranteeing the right to life, liberty and security of a person; Article 5, guaranteeing every citizen freedom from torture and inhuman treatment; Article 9, guaranteeing freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention and a range of other basic and inalienable human rights.

The death penalty contradicts the same document, which specifies the inalienable rights inherent in human beings by birthright.

The inherently inhumane practice of such punishment shows the complete political bias of both the legislative and executive branches of government, serving the will of the dictatorial regime.

This monstrous attempt to expand the possibilities of application of such punishment in the situation of total dependence of the judicial system of Belarus on the present authorities and absence of access of citizens to human rights structures, legal assistance and fair, unbiased court, is one more outrageous fact of human rights violation. This initiative of Lukashenka’s subordinate legislators is nothing else but a way to systematize intimidation and terror against citizens of Belarus, another way to legalize reprisals against unwanted political and civic activists or just dissenters.

The above-mentioned bill of the Criminal Code also violates a great number of articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular: article 3, which guarantees the right to life, article 7, which guarantees the liberty to equality before the law, article 8 guarantees restoration of rights in case of their violation, article 10, that guarantees publicity and fairness of the trial, article 11, that guarantees the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a fair and open court and several other articles.

The interpretation of ‘terrorism’ in the Republic of Belarus today is extremely broad, in fact, speculative from the legal and juridical point of view. It can only serve to widen the application of this monstrous form of punishment which contradicts the basic natural rights of citizens.

Both draft laws adopted are in treacherous violation of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the UN General Assembly resolution on December 16, 1966. This international document is, in many ways, identical to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and has several comments and clarifications.

The Republic of Belarus is a party to the Covenant. It has been ratified on the territory of our country by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, 18 September 1973. It came into force on March 23, 1976.

As of May 31, 1996, 133 states were parties to the Covenant, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Moldova and Estonia.

We, a coalition of human rights organisations, initiatives of solidarity and assistance to political prisoners, independent activists and diasporas of Belarus from around the world, declare that both of these legislative initiatives are repressive and aim to systematise terror against citizens of the Republic of Belarus.

We call upon the international community and all people of goodwill to:

– address the situation of legal collapse in the Republic of Belarus;

– condemn such practices applied to the citizens of Belarus;

– provide all possible assistance to the victims of political persecution, the initiatives and organisations which assist the repressed people!

In addition to the ICCI “Our House”, the “Country for Life” Foundation, the Littouwin LIONS CLUB, the OD SJW, and 15 different initiatives representing Belarusians both inside and outside the country have signed the statement.