Belarus
19.06.12
Urgent Interventions

Harassment of Mr. Ales Bialiatski

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

Newinformation

BLR007 / 0811 / OBS 104.7

Harassment

Reprisalsin detention

Belarus

June 19, 2012

The Observatory for the Protection of Human RightsDefenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights(FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has been informed about measures of reprimand and extra duty issued against Mr. Ales Bialiatski, President of the HumanRights Centre (HRC) “Viasna” and FIDHVice-President and requests your urgent intervention.

New information:

On June 15, 2012, the Observatory wasinformed of the existence of measures of reprimand and extra duty recentlyissued by the penitentiary administration againstMr. Ales Bialiatski. Such measures were communicated to HRC “Viasna” ViceChairman Valiantsin Stefanovich in aletter written by Mr. Bialiatski, in which he stated the following:

Ialready had a reprimand and an extra duty. I feel they won't be the last. Ingeneral, it turned out I am far from being a good inmate.”

The prison staff is reportedly blaming Mr. Bialiatskibecause he refuses to recognise his guilt, does not belong to “amateur talentgroups”[1],and, most recently, because a measure of reprimand was issued against him.

Mr. Bialiatski's meetings with his wife have also beenreduced from three days to one, and he is now only allowed to receive halfamount of food parcels.

The Observatory fears that these new measures againstMr. Bialiatski only aim at depicting him as an offender, with the aim ofdepriving him from the possibility of benefitting from the amnesty lawscheduled for July 3, 2012, and from other early releasemeasures.

The Observatory is also worried that the right of Mr.Bialiatski to receive and send letters remains curtailed, as the prisonauthorities still fail to deliver a significant portion of his correspondence.

Background information:

Mr. Ales Bialiatski was arrested on August 4, 2011 by the police representative of the Department of FinancialInvestigations on charges of tax evasion under Article 243, part 2, of theCriminal Code of the Republic of Belarus (“concealment of profits on an especially large scale”), which providesfor up to seven years' imprisonment. On November 24, 2011, the Pervomaiski District Court of Minsk sentenced Ales Bialiatski tofour and a half years of imprisonment under strict regime conditions, theconfiscation of property, including the premises used for Viasna's offices anda fine. In January 2012, the entire amount of the fine was transferred to thecourt's bank account after local NGOs collected money in order to cover thefine and court expenditures, which amounted to a total of 757,526,717Belarusian Rubles (approximately 70,000 Euros). On January 24, 2012, the Minsk City Court confirmed the sentence.

On February 28, 2012, Mr. Ales Bialiatski wastransferred to Babruisk Penal Colony No. 2, where, by court order, he mustspend the next four years, less the seven months already spent in prison. On March 29, 2012, the Minsk PervomaiskyDistrict Court issued a new decision against Mr. Ales Bialiatski, ordering himto pay an additional amount of 140,366,151 rubles (nearly 12,700 Euro) inpenalty, in addition to the 757,526,717 BelarusianRubles (approximately 70,000 Euros) which had already been paid in January 2012, on the pretext that the fine that he was ordered to pay following hissentencing on November 24, 2011 (and upheld in appeal on January 24, 2012) hadnot been indexed to the inflation, and had therefore to be up-scaled. The Courtruling of March 29 further states that the inflation index upscale correspondsto the period running from May 2008, when foreign funds were deposited on Mr.Bialiatski's bank account, up to January 2012, when his wife, Ms. NataliaPinchuk, transferred the amount of the fine on the Pervomaisky District Court'sbank account. The court decision was issued in the absence of the accused, ashe is currently incarcerated and neither notified nor even aware of thishearing. Regarding the merits of this new proceeding, the Belarusian Tax Codedoes not provide for any kind of indexing.

On April 30, 2012, members of “Viasna”filed a complaint before the Minsk Pervomaisky District Court to challenge thedecision to index the amount of the fine on the inflation rate. It filedanother complaint before the Cassation Court to challenge the“government surcharge penalty” which, according to Mr. Bialiatski lawyers, doesnot refer to any legal basis.

In addition, new unlawful restrictive measures havebeen imposed on Mr. Ales Bialiatski regarding his conditions of detention. Inparticular, his basic prison wages have been reduced to a fifth of what isordinarily granted to other inmates to buy items at the prison' stores.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Belarusian authorities, urgingthem to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. AlesBialiatski since his detention is arbitrary as it seems to merely sanction hishuman rights activities;

ii. Put an end to anykind of harassment - including at the judicial and administrative levels -against Mr. Ales Bialiatski and quash the measures of reprimand and extra dutyas well as the previous judicial decisions;

iii. Guarantee in allcircumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ales Bialiatski;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998 as well as international humanrights standards and international instruments ratified by Belarus.

Addresses:

· President AlexanderLukashenko, Fax : + 375 172 26 06 10 or + 375 172 22 38 72, Email: contact@president.gov.by

ñ Head of theAdministration of the President of Belarus,Mr. Vladimir Vladimirovich Makei, Fax: + 375 17 226-06-10

· General Prosecutor,Grigory Alekseevich Vasilevich, Fax: + 375 17 226 42 52

· Minister of Justice ofBelarus, Mr. Viktor Grigorevich Golovanov, Emailkanc@minjust.by

· Permanent Missionof Belarus to the United Nations in Geneva, Fax: +41 22 748 24 51. Email: mission.belarus@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of Belarusin Brussels, Fax : + 32 2.340.02.87, Email : embbel@skynet.be

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Belarusin your respective country.

***

Paris-Geneva,June 19, 2012

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

Tocontact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33(0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41(0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

[1] Referring to "socialactivities" within the prison.

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