BLR 004 / 1120 / OBS 122
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
November 4, 2020
The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Belarus.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informedby reliable sources about the administrative detention and judicial harassmentof Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka, an independent journalist and member ofthe Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Viasna” whoparticipated in gathering anddocumenting information on human rights violations committed in Belarus sinceAugust 2020, and about the arbitrarydetention and subsequent release of Mr. Aliaksandr Paplauski, avolunteer at the HRC “Viasna”.
According to the informationreceived, on November 2, 2020, Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka was sentenced to 15days of administrative detention by the Zavodski District Court of Minsk
on charges of “participating in anunauthorized 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 Codeof Administrative Offences). Since then, she remains detained in Okrestinadetention centre, Minsk.
On October 30, 2020, Ms.Kastylianchanka was arbitrarily arrested along with seven other individuals ata café in Minsk by officers from the Main Directorate for Combating OrganisedCrime and Corruption (GUBOPiK) for allegedly taking part in an unauthorisedrally, chanting slogans and disobeying police orders earlier on the same day,even though Ms. Kastylianchanka did not participate in any rally.
Furthermore, the only evidencetaken into consideration by the court was the testimony of the police officers,while no visual images of the rally were presented. Moreover, the courtrejected two motions filed by Ms. Kastylianchanka’s lawyer to question thepolice 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 ofMinsk, where he was monitoring the trials of the detained participants in apeaceful demonstration, for allegedly refusing to leave the courtroom by orderof a judge during a break. Mr. Poplausky was charged under art. 17.1 of theCode of Administrative Offences (“petty hooliganism”) and was subsequentlytaken to Okrestina detention centre, in Minsk.
On November 2, the MaskoŭskiDistrict Court of Minsk adjourned Mr. Poplausky’s case to November 17, and hewas released pending trial.
The Observatory expresses itsutmost concern over Ms. Kastylianchanka’s administrative detention and Mr.Poplausky’s judicial harassment and arbitrary detention, which seem to be only aimed at punishingthem for their legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory further condemnsthe persecution of the members of HRC “Viasna”, including the arbitrarydetention of Ms. Maria Rabkova,which intensified as a result of the organisation’s steadfastmonitoring and reporting of human rights violations that are occurring in theframework of the violent repression of the post-election demonstrations inBelarus.
TheObservatory urges the Belarusian authorities to guarantee in allcircumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Kastylianchanka, to immediately andunconditionally 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.
Please writeto the authorities of Belarus to urge them to:
i. Guarantee inall circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka, Mr. Aliaksandr Paplauski as well as of allother HRC “Viasna” members and human rights defenders in Belarus;
ii. Release Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka immediately andunconditionally, since her administrative detention is arbitrary as it seems tobe merely aimed at punishing her for her legitimate human rights activities;
iii. Put an end toall acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Ms. Maryna Kastylianchanka and Mr. Aliaksandr Paplauski and all otherHRC “Viasna” members and human rights defenders in Belarus, and ensure in allcircumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activitieswithout any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iv. Conform in allcircumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, inparticular its Articles 1, 6 and 12.2;
v. Ensure in allcircumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordancewith international human rights instruments ratified by Belarus.
Please also write to the diplomatic representations ofBelarus in your respective countries.
Geneva-Paris,November 4, 2020
Kindly informus of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatoryfor the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objectiveof this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression againsthuman rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of , the European Union Human RightsDefenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 For more information, see Joint Letter of OMCT, FIDH, the Belarusian HelsinkiCommittee 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 preventtorture, September 18, 2020.