Belarus: Administrative detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka and arbitrary detention and subsequent release of Mr. Aliaksandr Paplauski

04/11/2020
Urgent Appeal

BLR 004 / 1120 / OBS 122
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Release
Belarus
November 4, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Belarus.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the administrative detention and judicial harassment of Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka, an independent journalist and member of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Viasna” who participated in gathering and documenting information on human rights violations committed in Belarus since August 2020[1], and about the arbitrary detention and subsequent release of Mr. Aliaksandr Paplauski, a volunteer at the HRC “Viasna”.

According to the information received, on November 2, 2020, Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka was sentenced to 15 days of administrative detention by the Zavodski District Court of Minsk on charges of “participating in an unauthorized mass event” (art. 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences) and “disobeying the legal orders of a police officer” (article 23.4 of the Code of Administrative Offences). Since then, she remains detained in Okrestina detention centre, Minsk.

On October 30, 2020, Ms. Kastylianchanka was arbitrarily arrested along with seven other individuals at a café in Minsk by officers from the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption (GUBOPiK) for allegedly taking part in an unauthorised rally, chanting slogans and disobeying police orders earlier on the same day, even though Ms. Kastylianchanka did not participate in any rally.

Furthermore, the only evidence taken into consideration by the court was the testimony of the police officers, while no visual images of the rally were presented. Moreover, the court rejected two motions filed by Ms. Kastylianchanka’s lawyer to question the police officer who filed the record of administrative offences against Ms. Kastylianchanka and to call the rest of detainees as witnesses, respectively.

Moreover, on October 30, 2020, Mr. Aleksandr Poplausky was arbitrarily arrested in the Maskoŭski District Court of Minsk, where he was monitoring the trials of the detained participants in a peaceful demonstration, for allegedly refusing to leave the courtroom by order of a judge during a break. Mr. Poplausky was charged under art. 17.1 of the Code of Administrative Offences (“petty hooliganism”) and was subsequently taken to Okrestina detention centre, in Minsk.

On November 2, the Maskoŭski District Court of Minsk adjourned Mr. Poplausky’s case to November 17, and he was released pending trial.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over Ms. Kastylianchanka’s administrative detention and Mr. Poplausky’s judicial harassment and arbitrary detention, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory further condemns the persecution of the members of HRC “Viasna”, including the arbitrary detention of Ms. Maria Rabkova [2], which intensified as a result of the organisation’s steadfast monitoring and reporting of human rights violations that are occurring in the framework of the violent repression of the post-election demonstrations in Belarus.

The Observatory urges the Belarusian authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Kastylianchanka, to immediately and unconditionally release her and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against her as well as against Mr. Paplauski.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Belarus to urge them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka, Mr. Aliaksandr Paplauskias well as of all other HRC “Viasna” members and human rights defenders in Belarus;

ii. ReleaseMs. Maryna Kastylianchankaimmediately and unconditionally, since her administrative detention is arbitrary as it seems to be merely aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Ms. Maryna Kastylianchankaand Mr. Aliaksandr Paplauskiand all other HRC “Viasna” members and human rights defenders in Belarus, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform in all circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1, 6 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.

Addresses:

· Mr. Aliaksandr Lukashenka, President of Belarus, Email: contact@president.gov.by ;
· Mr. Aliaksandr Konyuk, General Prosecutor of Belarus, Email: info@prokuratura.gov.by ;
· Mr. Oleg Slizhevsky, Minister of Justice of Belarus, Email: kanc@minjust.by ;
· Mr. Leonid Anfimov, Chairman of the State Control Committee of Belarus, Email: kgk@mail.belpak.by ;
· Mr. Yury Ambrazevich, Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.belarus@ties.itu.int ;
· H.E. Mr. Aliaksandr Mikhnevich, Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, Email: belgium@mfa.gov.by

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Belarus in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, November 4, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu , the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.


[1] For more information, see Joint Letter of OMCT, FIDH, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Viasna to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, August 24, 2020, as well as OMCT statement, Belarus: UN Human Rights Council must act to prevent torture, September 18, 2020.
[2] See Observatory Urgent Appeal BLR 001 / 0920 / OBS 102, published on September 18, 2020.

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