Urgent Interventions

Ales Bialiatski freed after almost three years behind bars

Paris-Geneva, June 26, 2014. The Observatory forthe Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and OMCT,welcomes the release on June 21, 2014 of Ales Bialiatski, President of theHuman Rights Center “Viasna” and Vice-President of FIDH, after almost threeyears spent in jail.

On June 21, 2014, Ales Bialiatski was granted an amnesty by theBelarusian authorities and released the same day. He was arrested on August 4,2011 on politically motivated charges of “fiscal evasion”, and sentenced threemonths later to four and a half years of imprisonment in a penal colony of highsecurity. He was subjected to especially harsh detention conditions. He wasrepeatedly denied the right to receive visits from his wife, food parcels and otherinmates were forbidden to communicate with him, thus imposing years of de factosolitary confinement.

It is a great joy to see Alesreleased, after nearly three years of intensive campaign to get him out of jail”said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. “His liberation should pave the wayfor the effective guarantee of the right to promote and protect human rights inBelarus”, he added.

We are very happy to welcomeback our colleague Ales. His release today does not change the fact that hisdetention was arbitrary and that he had to suffer under conditions ofimprisonment underlying the political nature of the case. The internationalcommunity needs to stay vigilant about the situation of human rights and ofthose defending the rights of others in Belarus”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCTSecretary General.

Despitethe amnesty, Ales Bialiatski will be subjected to travel restriction measures(known as “preventive control” measures in Belarus) for a yet unknown period oftime. On June 23, 2014, the human rights defender had to sign a documentacknowledging that he would have to report to a district police department oncea month, that he would not commit more than three administrative offences in ayear, and that he would not travel out of Belarus for longer than a month.

The Observatory welcomes the amnesty of Ales Bialiatski andthanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened on his behalf.It remains however concerned that the above-mentioned travel restrictionsmeasures intend to hinder his human rights activities and calls for theirrevocation. Furthermore, the Observatory further urges the Belarusianauthorities to stop immediately all acts of harassment and intimidation againsthuman rights defenders in Belarus and ensure in all circumstances that theyare able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrance andfear of reprisals.