Belarus: Re-arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. Pavel Levinau, board member of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee

02/06/2017
Urgent Appeal

BLR 002 / 0617 / OBS 060
Arbitrary detention
Belarus
June 2, 2017

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 re-arrest and arbitrary detention of Mr. Pavel Levinau, human rights defender and board member of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee.

According to the information received, on the evening of May 30, 2017, police officers arrested Mr. Pavel Levinau in Viciebsk and placed him in detention at the temporary detention facility in Viciebsk. On April 17, 2017, Judge Ina Hrabouskaya of the Kastryčnicki district of Viciebsk sentenced him to 15 days of administrative detention under article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences for participating in an unauthorised protests on March 2 and 26, 2017 (see background information). The judgment against Mr. Pavel Levinau was handed down in absentia, as he was receiving treatment outside Belarus.

On May 5, after returning to Belarus, Mr. Pavel Levinau had been arrested by the police and detained until May 10, when he was taken to hospital due to high blood pressure, and later underwent a surgery, before he was finally discharged from the hospital.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern with the conviction and detention of Mr. Levinau, as they appear to be linked to his human rights activities. Mr. Levinau notably observed the violations and arbitrary detentions which occurred in March 2017, within the framework of peaceful protests opposing Presidential Decree No. 3 “On the prevention of dependency on social aid” (see background information).

The Observatory therefore urges Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Pavel Levinauand to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him.

Background information:

Since the beginning of March, 2017, peaceful protests have erupted throughout the country to oppose President Decree n.° 3 “On the prevention of dependency on social aid” which in violation of international human rights law sanctions unemployment by imposing a penalty ranging from a fee to imprisonment on Belarusian citizens who have worked less than a certain number of days.

Peaceful protests were massively repressed with hundreds of protesters detained by the police [1].

Belarusian authorities arrested several human rights defenders who have been sentenced under article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences for “participating in an unauthorised peaceful assembly” in reprisal for their legitimate monitoring activities of observing massive violations and arbitrary detention of peaceful protesters [2].

Amongst them, Mr. Pavel Levinauwas arrested on March 26, 2017, for taking part in protests held in Vitebsk on March 25 and 26 as an observer. Suffering from a heart problem, his blood pressure increased while in detention, causing a hypertensive crisis.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Belarus, urging them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Pavel Levinau;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at judicial level, against Mr. Pavel Levinau, as well as of all human rights defenders in Belarus;

iii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Pavel Levinau, as well as of all human rights defenders in Belarus;

iv. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its Articles 1, 2, 5 and 12.2;

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

Addresses:

· President Aliaksandr Lukashenka, Belarus, Fax: + 375 172 26 06 10 or + 375 172 22 38 72, Email: contact@president.gov.by
· General Prosecutor, Alexander Konyuk, Belarus, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52
· Minister of Justice of Belarus, Mr. Oleg Slizhevsky, Email: kanc@minjust.by, Fax: + 375 17 200 86 87
· President of the Supreme Court of Belarus, Mr. Valiantsin Alehavich Sukala, Belarus, Email: scjustrb@pmrb.gov.by
· Administration of the Central District Court of Gomel, Tel/Fax: +375 232 77 68 77, Email: centr-gomel@court.by
· H.E. Mr. Yury Ambrazevich, Permanent Mission of Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51. Email: mission.belarus@ties.itu.int
H.E. Mr. Aleksandr Mikhnevich, Embassy of Belarus in Brussels, Fax: + 32 2.340.02.87, Email: belgium@mfa.gov.by

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

***

Paris-Geneva, June 2, 2017

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 FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene 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.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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