ICJ urges the authorities of Belarus to stop attacks on lawyers for legitimately carrying out their work

Oral Statement of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) at the interactive dialogue on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on the situation of human rights in Belarus in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.

The statement, which was delivered by ICJ legal intern, Alexander Bekmurzin, reads as follows:

“Mr. President,

The ICJ welcomes the Report of the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in Belarus and echoes his condemnation of the continuous attacks on lawyers, including through unfair criminal, administrative and disciplinary proceedings for legitimate discharge of their professional duties. These functions are critical to the protection of human rights.

Independent lawyers have been prosecuted and systematically imprisoned. On 2 February, the Minsk city court sentenced lawyer Vitaly Braginets, who defended Ales Bialaitski, a Belarus Nobel Prize laureate, to eight years in prison. On 3 March, the district court of Minsk sentenced Mikhail Markov to a year of imprisonment for participation in a rally in exercise of the right to freedom of assembly. Another lawyer, Alexander Danilevich, faces up to 12 years of imprisonment in connection with statements he made, including on human rights issues.

During the last two years, nearly one hundred lawyers have been disbarred with their licences terminated by the Ministry of Justice.

The ICJ deplores the denunciation by Belarus of the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR effective February. Regrettably, victims of human rights violations are now deprived of access to his international remedy.

The ICJ urges the Belarus authorities to:

  • stop reprisals against independent lawyers and;
  • release arbitrarily detained lawyers and reinstate those disbarred in their status as lawyers;

I thank you.”

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