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Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders, A/HRC/4/37/Add.1, 27 March 2007: Belarus

61. On the 23 November 2006, the Special Representative, sent an urgent appeal concerning the detention of seven activists including Mr Vyacheslav Andreev, Ms Sviatlana Siarheichyk, Mr Svyatoslav Sementsov, Ms Tanya Ivanova, Mr Aleksei Filipenko, Ms Natallia Kavalchuk and Mr Viachaslau Bortnik who promote the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) persons in Belarus and are current members  of   the  Organising Committee of the International LGBT Conference which was due to be held in Minsk. According to the information received, on 8 November 2006, at approximately 8:20pm, the seven aforementioned persons were arrested and detained when the apartment in which they were holding a meeting, was broken into by the police. It is alleged that the police confiscated materials relating to the conference and brought the activists to the  Zheleznodorozhnyi Borrow Police Department where they were questioned in relation to the schedule of the conference, the list of participants and the venue of the conference. Four of the activists were released after two hours but Vyacheslav Andreev, Svyatoslav Sementsov and Viachaslau Bortnik  were  detained  until  5:30pm  the  following  day.  All  were  released  without  charge.

However, the International LGBT Conference was cancelled by  the  organizers  after  their arrest. Concern was expressed that the events described above may represent attempts by the Belarusian authorities to prevent the activists from carrying out their legitimate activities, in particular raising attention to the situation of LGBT persons in Belarus. Furthermore there were concerns regarding reported amendments to the Criminal Code adopted on 15 December 2005 which may be used to detain members of LGBT groups, or discredit their legitimate activities.

Observations

71. The Special Representative reiterates her concerns that the charges imposed upon these human rights defenders were due to the organization’s activities to monitor the election in Belarus. She is also concerned that such amendments to the Criminal Code may be used to detain members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) groups, or discredit their legitimate activities and encourages the Government to reply to her communication of 23 November 2006.

 

Link to full text of the report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/4session/A-HRC-4-37-Add-1.pdf