Pugach v. Belarus

Reference: CCPR/C/114/D/1984/2010

Decision Year: 2015-07-15

Related Articles:

  • Article 19.2 Article 21

Keywords:

  • Freedom of expression Right of peaceful assembly

Full Case:

Facts:

A Belarusian animal advocate, prevented from speaking out, in the name of business

The author, a Belarusian national, sought the permission of the Minsk City Executive Committee to hold a peaceful picket on 22 August 2009, at a pedestrian square in front of the building housing City Fauna, aimed at drawing citizens’ attention to the cause of animals. On 14 August 2009, the Minsk Executive Committee refused to authorise the picket, noting that the gathering at the indicated location would hinder the work of City Fauna and two other businesses located in the same area. On 23 October 2009, the author filed a cassation before the Minsk City Court, arguing that the Executive Committee’s decision to prohibit the picket was unjustified and unnecessary in a democratic society. The Minsk City Court upheld the district court’s decision of 1 October 2009 and dismissed the author’s complaint.

The author claims that the refusal to allow him to organise a picket arbitrarily restricted his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by the article 19(2) of the Covenant and his right of peaceful assembly, guaranteed by the article 21 of the Covenant. 

Committee’s Merits

The Committee considers that the refusal to allow the author to hold a picket defending the rights of animals is clearly a restriction of the right to freedom of expression and of the right to peaceful assembly, which are guaranteed by articles 19 (2) and 21 of the Covenant.

Therefore, the Committee verifies whether the restrictions imposed on the author’s rights are justified under article 19 (3) of the Covenant and the second part of article 21 of the Covenant.

Firstly, whilst the Covenant provides that the freedom of expression can be restricted, this only applies if law and necessary provide for such restrictions.

In addition, regarding the right to peaceful assembly, the Committee considers that the imposition of restrictions by a State party shall be with the aim of reconciling an individual’s right to assembly and the interests of general concern. Such restrictions should be guided by the objective of facilitating this right, rather than seeking to impose unnecessary or disproportionate restrictions on said right.

In this case, the Committee notes that the authorities have not explained how, in practice, a picket held in a pedestrian zone outside the premises of the respective State enterprise would hinder the work of said enterprise or the movement of traffic; nor has it explained how the restrictions imposed on the author’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly were justified under article 19 (3) ant the second sentence of article 21 of the Covenant.

The Committee concludes that the author’s rights under articles 19 (2) and 21 of the Covenant were violated.

Committee's Admissibility

The Committee considers that the author has sufficiently substantiated his claims under articles 19(2) and 21 of the Covenant for the purpose of admissibility.

Recommendation

In accordance with article 2(3) of the Covenant, the State party is under the obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy, including reimbursement of any legal costs incurred by the author, together with adequate compensation. The State party is also under the obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations in the future.

The Committee wishes to receive from the State party, within 180 days- on 15 September 2015- information regarding the measures taken to give effect to the Committee’s Views.

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