BELARUS: Visa refusal for FIDH President

Press release
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Paris-Geneva, August 7, 2009. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), deplores the visa refusal by the Belarusian authorities for Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

On July 31, 2009, the Belarus Consulate in Paris refused to issue a visa to FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen, following a request filed on July 29, 2009. Ms. Belhassen intended to hold a series of meetings with representatives of the Belarusian civil society, and to attend court hearings of FIDH member organisation "Viasna" in Minsk.

The Observatory recalls that according to Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels".

In April 2009, the Human Right Center "Viasna" applied for official registration under the new name "Nasha Viasna". On May 25, 2009, the Ministry of Justice rejected the application (see Urgent Appeal BLR 001 / 0309 / OBS 038)."Nasha Viasna" appealed against the decision and the case should be heard by the Supreme Court on August 10, 2009.

For further information, please contact:

* FIDH: Hugo Gabbero, + 33 1 43 55 20 78
* OMCT: Delphine Reculeau : + 41 22 809 49 39

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