ICCPR Case Digest

CCPR/C/126/D/2269/2013

Communication

2269/2013

Submission: 2012.12.28

View Adopted: 2019.07.25

Vitaly Lopasov v. Belarus

Arbitrary restriction on freedom of expression in Belarus, state party unable to justify limitation on permissible grounds

Substantive Issues
  • Fair trial
  • Freedom of expression
  • Right of peaceful assembly
Relevant Articles
  • Article 19
  • Article 2.2
  • Article 21
Full Text

Facts

The author is a Belarusian national whom paritcipated in the commemoration of the Belarusian uprising of 1863, on October 2012. During the event, the author was apprehended by police officers, and held in a police station without being provided a reason. He was later found in violation of domestic laws on mass gatherings.

The author argues that Belarus violated his rights under article 19 and 21 in conjunction with article 2(2), as it did not allow him to participate in a peaceful gathering.

Merits

The Committee noted that regarding article 19, the state party must prove that any restrictions are for a lawful purpose, such as the respect of the rights and reputations of others, for the protection of national security or public order (ordre public) or public health or morals, as well as demonstrating that any restriction is necessary and proportionate. 

The Committee further noted that regarding article 21 (right to peaceful assembly), a state must justify any limitation on one of the established permissible grounds, namely where the restriction is in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, or the protection of public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.

The Committee found that Belarus failed to demonstrate that the apprehension of and fine imposed on the author, although based in law, were necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate purpose. On that basis, they found a violation of both article 19 and 21 of the Covenant. 

Recommendations

On the basis of article 2(3) of the Covenant, the state party is under an obligation to provide an effective remedy to the author. The Committee therefore required Belarus to:

  • make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated;

  • take appropriate steps to (a) provide the author with adequate compensation; and (b) take steps to prevent similar violations occurring in the future.

  • revise its legislation in accordance with its obligation under article 2 (2), in particular, the Law on Mass Events and Decision No. 717 of the Svisloch District Executive Committee, as applied in the present case, with a view to ensuring that the rights under articles 19 and 21 of the Covenant may be fully enjoyed in the State party.

Separate Opinions

Committee member Gentian Zyberi partly dissented on the basis that he argued both violations should be found when read in conjunction of article 2(2) of the Covenant, as opposed to autonomously.

Implementation

The Committee required Belarus to take all aforementioned measures and update the Committee on progress made within 180 days, or 25 January 2020.

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